Editor's note: This letter was originally sent town officials and is being reprinted here at the author's request.
To Whom It May Concern:
I live on Roosevelt Avenue in East Meadow. On Tuesday, New Year's Day, a fire broke out in the Spice & Curry Restaurant on Hempstead Turnpike. My home is located behind and down the street from this restaurant.
We were in our home when we smelled smoke and saw the lights and heard the sirens of the responding emergency vehicles. The night was bitterly cold with a high wind blowing from the west. By the time I got dressed and went out to look, the firefighters were already battling this blaze. I went down Roosevelt Avenue making sure that the neighbors were alerted to the fire. Shortly thereafter, firefighters came down the street alerting the neighbors to the potential danger, particularly the residents whose homes backed up to the restaurant.
The flames were being fanned by the high wind and as I had said, the temperature that night was bitter, very close to being dangerously cold. Notwithstanding these extremes, the firefighters from the East Meadow fire department managed to keep the fire contained to just those properties on Hempstead Turnpike, preventing it from spreading to the surrounding neighborhood. I saw that fire departments from Bellmore, North Bellmore, Levittown, Wantagh and North Merrick also responded to the scene.
The reason that I am writing to you elected officials and members of the media is to compliment the actions of these volunteers. While we remain secure and warm in our homes, these men and women respond in conditions as terrible as these and put their lives on the line to protect our lives and properties. All too often we neglect to thank them for their actions. This letter is to thank them.
It should also be noted that the proposed fence along this stretch of Hempstead Turnpike has not yet been put in place. That turned out to be a good thing. The night of the fire, all of this section of the turnpike was filled with emergency vehicles, pumpers, ambulances, police cars on all lanes of the road and with some parked on the median itself. If this proposed fence were in place, it would have severely hampered the efforts of the emergency responders.
It is when a situation like this occurs that we realize that many proposals and ideas, such as fencing this stretch of roadway, are indeed ill advised and will do more harm than good.
Again, my thanks to our brave volunteer firefighters.
John J. Nikiel