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Oct 11, 2012 6:08 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Woman Rescued In Southampton Village Fire Dies From Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Oct 12, 2012 1:41 PM


According to Southampton Village Police, the victim, identified as Ona R. Masters, 95, died at Southampton Hospital as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Southampton Fire Department First Lieutenant Alfred Callahan said a Stop & Shop Pea Pod delivery man called for help, and Captain Rogoski was the first on the scene. When he heard that someone was inside, he made a push into the fully involved home to find the elderly woman. Chief Pierson arrived shortly after and also attempted to get into the building. The Chief heard the woman yelling but was unable to locate her because the smoke and heat were becoming “unbearable,” he said. Neither of them had time to put on equipment and “made the push completely unprotected.”

When the crews arrived, they made another push into the smoke-filled home. Second Lieutenant Christopher Capalbo and his crew went down a narrow hallway, while Lt. Shimkus and Chief Kampf searched the bedroom where they found the woman under a bed, Lt. Callahan said.

“I grabbed Lt. Capalbo, being the closest one to me, and pointed into the room,” Lt. Callahan said. “As I cleared a path back to the front door, Chief Kampf and Lt. Shimkus handed the victim to Lt. Capalbo who followed me out with the victim.”

According to SVVA Assistant Chief Mark Klinger, the woman was pulled from the fire without a pulse and was not breathing. Lt. Callahan said he began CPR with the assistance of Southampton Village Police Officer Michael Horstman until SVVA crews arrived. Resuscitation efforts were continued on the scene and during the transport to the hospital, and led by critical care technician Briana Seltenreich, which included CPR by Mechanical CPR device called the LUCAS 2, IV therapy, and airway management, according to Mr. Klinger.

By the time she arrived at the hospital, the woman had a sustainable pulse and blood pressure, but was in critical condition, he said.

“All agencies involved worked extremely well together yesterday, and there is no better example than this that demonstrates how well this local system works,” he added.

Lt. Callahan felt equally as confident in the system: “The actions of Chief Pierson and Captain Rogoski were heroic and went above and beyond the call of duty. The entire crew worked as one unit, as a perfect team. There is no better feeling than knowing the many hours of training and time these crews put in actually matter for something.”

The home on Bellows Lane that went up in flames on Thursday evening belongs to Ona and Margery Masters, and according to the Southampton Fire Department, there was only one, elderly woman at the home at the time of the fire.

Southampton Village and Town fire marshals are still investigating the cause of the fire.

UPDATE, Thursday, 9:11 p.m.:

Fire Chief Rodney “Chip” Pierson called it “the proudest moment of my career by far” as he recounted how a combination of firefighters and police rescued an elderly woman from a burning house on Bellows Lane Thursday evening.

A call came in from a delivery driver at approximately 5:30 p.m., reporting smoke at a residence he was slated to deliver to. Chief Pierson was among the first on the scene, within two minutes of the call; he had been watching his daughter play field hockey at Southampton High School not far from the house at 30 Bellows Lane (the address was incorrect in the original report). When Southampton Fire Department crews arrived a short time later, the house was half-involved and quickly became fully involved, the chief said.

Firefighters, including Chief Pierson and Captain Steve Rogoski, were among the group of six to eight policemen and other responders who attempted to save the elderly woman from the flames. Heavy smoke and fire barred them from doing so until the trucks arrived shortly thereafter. They were then able to save the woman, who was trapped in her bedroom.

Second Assistant Chief Michael Kampf and Lieutenant Matt Shimkus grabbed the woman, rescuing her from the burning house.

“They did great,” Chief Pierson said. “I’ve been in the department for 20 years, and this is second time ever that we made a grab and got someone out of a burning building. This is the proudest moment of my career by far. I can’t explain it in words.”

Lt. Shimkus and Captain Rogoski were taken to Southampton Hospital and treated for smoke inhalation. Chief Pierson said they are in stable condition but still at the hospital “getting checked over.”

Approximately 60 Southampton Fire Department firefighters responded, as well as firefighters from Sag Harbor and Hampton Bays, “because it is important to have the manpower there when the smoke is flowing like that, because it spends the guys real fast,” Chief Pierson said. North Sea Fire Department was on standby.

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I could see a towering column of thick black smoke from up by Shinnecock Hardware on the highway so I knew it must be a serious fire. Good for those gutsy firefighters to charge right in and get the woman out. Sorry to hear people had to go to the hospital. Thank you to the Southampton Fire Department for being there when needed. You are much appreciated!
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Oct 11, 12 6:48 PM
2 members liked this comment
is it not against FD proocal to rush into a building on fire with no gear? Hope all these firefighters are OK.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Oct 11, 12 7:20 PM
If it was your mother they pulled out of that building would you be asking that question? These brave men and women all have families that they want to go home to and I am sure they made a solid judgement call based on the circumstances at hand.
By cmac (184), East Quogue on Oct 11, 12 8:39 PM
It is reported elsewhere that the first responders without breathing apparatus turned back due to heavy smoke, just such a solid judgment call it would appear. The woman was then rescued by other fully equiped firefighters.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Oct 11, 12 8:56 PM
1 member liked this comment
Those first on scene who knew of someone trapped made heroic attempts to save their life with no regard for their own safety and all you can take away from that is a question on whether or not they broke protocol??? I read your comment earlier, and I really didn't want to say anything but come on... they didnt turn back, they made every effort until the conditions became to unbearable and were forced out by the fire. Quoting fire department protocol would have been an easy way out for someone just ...more
By BlackLab (40), Southampton on Oct 12, 12 3:53 AM
Oh no you didn't !!
By Bill in Riverhead (190), Riverhead on Oct 12, 12 9:37 AM
You're right xtiego. One of the first things you are taught in EMS is safety first. This story could now be about 1 dead victim and 6 dead firefighters.
By Q333 (161), Southampton on Oct 12, 12 1:24 PM
1 member liked this comment
I know the family my prayers go out to them. Thank you to the SHVFD for all that you do. Especially for what you did today.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Oct 11, 12 8:57 PM
2 members liked this comment
Fire bad.
By btdt (449), water mill on Oct 11, 12 9:39 PM
2 members liked this comment
Thank you to all of the volunteer firefighters for a job WELL DONE!! We are so greatful for you service to our communities!
By Robert I Ross (250), Hampton Bays on Oct 11, 12 10:23 PM
2 members liked this comment
Great Job Guys !! Glad none of the firefighters/rescuers were seriously injured . My thoughts and prayers to the rescued woman . GREAT JOB !!
By AndersEn (174), Southampton on Oct 11, 12 10:27 PM
1 member liked this comment
OMG...the poor elderly lady probably thought it was the end. Thank God for the local volunteers!
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on Oct 12, 12 12:00 PM
good job! that took courage
By rabbit (65), watermill on Oct 12, 12 1:02 PM
Prayers & hugs for Margie... so very sad.
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on Oct 12, 12 2:36 PM
Oh no, poor Ona. I'm so very sorry to read that she passed away. God Bless her and her family. My hear breaks that she was unable to get out of the house, and how scared she must have been. She will be in my prayers.
By marybmary (54), east hampton on Oct 12, 12 3:31 PM
I am so sorry this story did not have a happy outcome--such a tragedy. My thoughts and prayers are extended to Ona's family and loved ones.
By Mrs.Sea (268), Sag Harbor on Oct 12, 12 3:52 PM
Could anyone tell me if Ona Masters was a retired math teacher?
My condolences to family & friends- she sounds like she was quite a lady!
By Brdie (10), Riverhead on Oct 12, 12 9:25 PM
Yes she was a retired math teacher and yes she was quite a lady even at 95 years of age.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Oct 13, 12 1:46 AM
Prayers and hugs to Margie. Ona was a pip she will be missed, may she rest in peace with Arnie
By alocal (9), Southampton on Oct 13, 12 11:46 AM
OMG So sad to read about the one woman, my math teacher Ona Masters in this story. One teacher that did her utmost to help me learn algerbra in Southampton. It was summer and I was mathmatically disadvantaged. At that time she taught 7 & 8 grade math in Riverhead. Ona Masters and her husband Arnie... two wonderful people who cared about teaching their students. Condolences from us to Margie.
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on Oct 13, 12 1:31 PM
1 member liked this comment
The members of the Southampton Fire Dept. are true hero's!!!!
By watermill (2), southampton on Oct 13, 12 7:03 PM
1 member liked this comment