Three hydrants unable to be used in fatal Williston Park fire: Fire District

Three hydrants unable to be used in fatal Williston Park fire: Fire District
A fire in Williston Park at a five-bedroom split-level home on Lafayette Street killed one woman and injured seven others the morning of May 23, according to officials. (Photo courtesy of @LIFireBuff via Instagram)

Three fire hydrants were unable to be used before first responders found one to provide a water supply during a fatal house fire in Williston Park last week, a Garden City Park Water District official said.

Kashmira Patel, 60, died and seven family members were taken to area hospitals for smoke inhalation after a fire destroyed a five-bedroom, split-level home in Williston Park Tuesday morning, Nassau County Fire Marshal Michael Uttaro said.

Kashmira’s niece, Bhumi Patel, said some of the family members were in town to attend her grandfather’s funeral.

Garden City Park Water District Superintendent Mike Levy said two hydrants– which were closest to 252 Lafayette St.–were inoperable due to the proximity of a downed power line on the front lawn that blocked the entryway. A third hydrant was found to be inoperable due to mechanical issues. 

“The use of these two hydrants near the downed power line would have created an immediate risk and danger to firefighters and residents,” Levy said in a statement to Blank Slate Media. “Firefighters then moved to the next closest hydrant. This hydrant experienced an unpredictable mechanical failure during the operation.”

Levy said the district is cooperating with authorities in the investigation, which is currently ongoing.

“The Garden City Park Water and Fire District is committed to the highest standards of safety, and we place the utmost importance in maintaining and testing our hydrants to ensure a sufficient water supply is available to fight fires and address emergency situations,” Levy said. 

Maintenance for the faulty hydrant falls under the jurisdiction of the district, which was last inspected and serviced the faulty hydrant on Oct. 26, 2022, Levy said. 

National Fire Protection Association standards require hydrants to be inspected annually. 

The district covers parts of Garden City Park, Manhasset Hills, parts of New Hyde Park, parts of Mineola, parts of North Hills, parts of Roslyn, parts of Williston Park, parts of Albertson and parts of Garden City.

Over $14,500 that was raised in a GoFundMe page created for the family will be returned to donors, a family representative said Friday.

“Thank you to all that showed their support on GFM but as a family we have decided to accept everyone’s prayers and no funds. Therefore we have requested to pull down the GFM page,” the representative said in a statement. “The funds will be returned to you who donated. Thank you again.”

A 911 call for an active fire at 252 Lafayette St. was made shortly after 3 a.m. on Tuesday, May 23 with the Garden City Park Fire Department responding first to the scene within 10 minutes in what was a fully involved fire, Uttaro said.

First responders attempted to enter the home to rescue the victim but had to withdraw due to the worsening conditions, Uttaro said.

“Firefighters and police tried to make entry as best they can, but the conditions were too severe to make a safe entry, be able to get in and make some type of rescue,” Uttaro said.

More than 60 firefighters responded to the scene.  It took about 90 minutes to bring the blaze under control, Uttaro said. But not before the home was destroyed. 

Donations to the GoFundMe page are currently paused, per the family’s decisions.

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