A retired U.S. Army major and New York City probation officer, Howard Wesley Carrion, 90, who was well liked by the Sag Harbor neighbors who said they kept an eye out for him, died on Monday after a fire broke out in his home.
One of those neighbors called 911 at about 3:40 p.m. after seeing black smoke escaping from 14 Hillside Drive, an old single-story home in the Sag Harbor Hills neighborhood. Sag Harbor Village Police were the first to respond, but couldn’t get into the house because the heat was too intense.
By the time members of the Sag Harbor Village Volunteer Fire Department arrived, flames were visible and smoke had filled the house. They entered through the front door, searching for the elderly man that the neighbor reported was most likely inside, going to the bedroom first, the site of the fire.
Sag Harbor Village firefighters were able to contain the fire to its point of origin, putting it out within minutes of arriving on scene, according to Sag Harbor Village Police Sergeant Paul Fabiano, only to find an unresponsive Mr. Carrion in another room. The East Hampton Fire Department and the East Hampton Town Fire Marshall also responded to the call.
After firefighters carried Mr. Carrion outside, Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps volunteers performed CPR and Mr. Carrion had a pulse as he was transported to Southampton Hospital. It was unclear if Mr. Carrion died en route or at the hospital.
Although a final report from the Suffolk County Police Arson Squad has yet to be filed, Detective Lieutenant Darrel Simmons said the fire is being treated as accidental, most likely started by an electrical baseboard heater.
Mr. Carrion, who was drafted into serving during World War II, lived alone despite suffering from dementia. Mr. Fabiano said that Mr. Carrion had family living nearby in Sag Harbor though, who along with the neighbors kept an almost constant eye on Mr. Carrion.
On Monday night, crime scene tape ringed the property. The house was visibly black throughout its interior, with a hole in the roof, a smaller hole on the left side of the house, blown out windows, and furniture littering the lawn.
Standing behind a wall of police who were still securing the scene for investigators, neighbor Eunice Vaughan, who said she knew Mr. Carrion well, was visibly upset at the news.
“This is just a sad day,” she said. “He had so many people looking out for him, and then this happens?”