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New York Woman Escapes Fire by Jumping Into Police Officer's Arms

June 30--A Suffolk County police officer convinced a Dix Hills woman to jump from the roof of her burning two-story home safely into his waiting arms Thursday morning, fire officials said.

The woman, Anita Bareja, 37, leaped into the arms of Second Precinct Officer William O'Rourke as the blaze engulfed her home on Seamans Neck Road, police said in a news release.

"I was scared to jump," Bareja said. "He had to say it three or four times before I did."

Bareja and O'Rourke were taken to Huntington Hospital, fire officials said.

Bareja was treated for smoke inhalation and released. O'Rourke hurt a shoulder, police said.

The incident occurred just before 3 a.m. The house was destroyed.

"She was very lucky," Dix Hills Assistant Fire Chief Tom Magno said.

Bareja said she was alone in the home because her mother and 13-year-old son are on vacation in India.

She went to sleep in her second-story bedroom about 12:30 a.m. and then was awakened by the sound of a smoke alarm. She said she called 911 from her cellphone before climbing out her bedroom window to the roof.

"When I woke up, I could not see," she said. "It was black smoke everywhere."

Magno said he was en route to the blaze when he heard police on his official radio.

"They said the house was fully involved and somebody was on the roof," Magno said, adding that he arrived at the scene expecting the worst.

Magno said Bareja jumped from a roof about 10 to 12 feet high. From there, she jumped into O'Rourke's arms.

Officials said about 75 volunteers from Dix Hills, Commack, Melville and Greenlawn battled the blaze, which took about 40 minutes to bring under control. Huntington Manor provided mutual aid.

The cause of the fire is being investigated by the Suffolk police Arson Squad and the Town of Huntington Fire marshal.

"The house was destroyed," Magno said. "The garage, kitchen, the surrounding rooms were pretty much totaled. It was a big fire . . . For the beams, the rafters to burn. You had 2-by-12 joists burned almost all the way through, the floor gave way in the kitchen area. That's a big fire."

With John Valenti

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