September 22, 2023


A 30-year-old man was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital for serious injuries sustained in a late-night house fire on Middle Road last night.

A woman and two children escaped without injury from the second-floor apartment in the two-family house at 394 Middle Road, but the occupant of the first-floor apartment was found unconscious by firefighters, who pulled him from the burning dwelling, Riverhead Police said.

One of the children who lives in the upstairs apartment called 911 at 11:24 p.m. to report smoke coming from the first floor of the home, police said.

Police found Shanon Garcia-Donis, 32, with her 7-year-old child and 6-month-old infant standing outside the two-story wood frame house on fire. She told police the first-floor apartment was occupied and the resident may be inside.

Riverhead firefighters found flames burning at the rear of the house, where the fire started in a kitchen stove, First Assistant Chief Kevin Brooks said. A hose team knocked down the fire so that two search teams could enter the house and search for occupants, he said. A fourth team climbed onto the roof to vent the fire, the chief said.

Search team firefighters J.R. Renton and Kevin Burgess, both ex-captains, found the unconscious man on a sofa in the front room on the first floor and pulled him from the burning home. Brooks said. Police identified the victim as Matej Petrak.

Firefighters found Petrak in less than a minute and got him out of the house, Brooks said.

“They did an amazing job. They really struggled because he was a big man. But they got him out of there very fast,” he said.

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