A volunteer firefighter on Long Island died after experiencing chest pains at the scene of a fire, authorities said.
Baldwin Fire Chief Kevin Smith says 43-year-old Michael Esposito became ill at the scene of a house fire on Grand Avenue early Wednesday. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died.
"We all wear our hearts on our sleeves and we lost a brother today," said Baldwin fire chief Kevin Smith.
Purple bunting covered the Baldwin fire house and the American flag flew at half-staff in memory of a man Smith called "a phenomenal guy."
Esposito's sneakers still sat in the truck bay where he had left them hours before.
He was among about 120 firefighters who responded to a home on Baldwin's Grand Avenue.
Among them was his younger brother, Todd, 41, another long time Baldwin volunteer.
On the way to the fire, Esposito complained of chest pains, Smith said. Minutes after arriving, Esposito had to be rushed to the hospital.
Todd Esposito left the fire to be at his brother's side but Michael Esposito died a short time later.
"This came out of nowhere," Smith said. "Guys are still calling me. They can't believe it."
The cause of the fire is undetermined and still under investigation, according to Nassau County police.
The two story house was gutted but the eight people inside escaped without serious injury. The Red Cross is now providing temporary housing.
"Everyone was asleep. The guy on the first floor woke up, felt the heat and got everyone else up," said neighbor Juan Rodriguez.
Hempstead's building department has received complaints about the house in the past but there is no evidence right now of any illegal apartments inside, said a town spokesman.
None of this matters to Esposito's colleagues and friends. His death left many "raw" and sad.
"Mike was a guy you could count on to do anything at any time. Drop what he's doing to help anybody," said Smith. "It's what he lived for."
A 72-year-old female was taken to a local hospital for treatment for anxiety following the blaze.