2002-04-13 / Front Page

Toddler Dies In Blaze Fast-Moving Fire Injures Three

By Howard Schwach

Toddler Dies In Blaze
Fast-Moving Fire Injures Three
By Howard Schwach

A fast-moving fire sparked by a space heater left between the child’s bedroom and the family’s living room raged through a Beach 87 Street home early last Sunday morning, killing two-year old Melissa O’Brien and injuring three other family members.

The blaze, which began about 1:15 a.m., quickly destroyed the wood-frame and brick home at 228 Beach 87 Street. The floor, shared by the parents and six children, was completely gutted by the fire.

Three of the older boys, twins Desjan and Arta Maloka, 14, and their brother Sani Maloka, 10, managed to escape through a window on the side of the house after the younger boy smelled smoke and alerted the other two. Two other young children, JJ, 5, and Sania Maloku, 10, also escaped, leaving the blazing home with their mother.

Cynthia Maschi, the family’s mother, reportedly carried the youngest child, four-month-old Ashley, from the fire. Cynthia and her husband, Matthew O’Brien reportedly ran back into the house to look for the two-year-old, but could not reach her. Her body was recovered by firefighters about a half an hour after the fire was brought under control.

All of the injured were taken to East Meadow Medical Center in Nassau County.

Four of the siblings were treated at that facility for smoke inhalation and released to other members of the family.

On Thursday, there were reports that Matthew O’Brien remained in critical condition and on a respirator. Cynthia reportedly underwent a six-hour skin graph surgery because of her burns.

She is reported by relatives to be "distraught" over the death of her two-year old daughter.

All of the others have been treated and released in the custody of relatives.

According to family members, the heat and hot water in the house had been turned off three weeks ago by the mortgage company that had recently taken over the house from its owner, who is reportedly in the hospital being treated for cancer.

The family had been given four months to look for a new home, but family members say it was hard for them to find a place because of the number of children in the family.

A fundraiser is being planned for the family, which had no insurance and now need necessities such as food and clothing.

Those who wish to contribute to the family may do so by sending a check made out to the "O’Brien Family Fund" care of Robert I. Skoy, Esq., 328 Bedell Street, Freeport, NY 11520-5132.

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