A firefighter was critically injured while battling a house fire on Long Island early Friday morning, officials said.
According to police, 200 firefighters from 13 departments responded to the blaze in Woodmere, which was reported around 4 a.m. Fire officials believe the fire started on the first floor of the unoccupied house.
Joseph Sanford Jr., a 17-year veteran of the Inwood Fire Department, suffered cardiac arrest after officials believe the first floor of the house collapsed, causing him to fall to the basement.
"The large amount of smoke, it was very possible he got disoriented and very possibly gotten separated from his partner," said Woodmere Fire Chief Leonard Cherson.
Sanford was found after an alert device signaled to his fellow firefighters that he was down. The alert, known as a PASS alarm, is activated when a firefighter has been motionless for too long.
"I really don't think he was there a long a time," said Rivelli. "They did hear his Vibra alert going off his pack."
He was resuscitated with CPR and rushed to a nearby hospital where he was listed in critical condition. Officials said he remains unconscious and on a ventilator.
"When one of your people go down, it's a tough thing," said Inwood Fire Chief Anthony Rivelli. "It's the holidays, it's Christmastime. Nobody wants to see this."
Two other firefighters suffered minor injuries, but did not require medical attention, police said.
The fire has not been deemed suspicious, though authorities are continuing to investigate.
"He really is a hero, and my thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family," said neighbor Sara Fruchter. "I am hoping for a holiday miracle."
-- Greg Cergol contributed to this report.