NY Fire Chaplain Collapses, Dies at Blaze

An off-duty fire department chaplain who rushed to the scene of a Huntington Station bagel shop fire near his house early Wednesday collapsed and later died, fire officials said.

The victim, Richard Holst, 60, of Huntington Station, had been a member of the Huntington Manor Fire Department in Huntington Station for 31 years, serving as chaplain for many of those years, fire officials said in a news release Wednesday.

Holst lived near the Depot Road bagel shop, saw smoke and reported the fire, said Suffolk Police Det. Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick of the homicide squad.

Holst walked around the building to assess the fire, but did not go inside, police said. The fire started in the rear of the building.

Holst collapsed after emergency responders came to the scene, officials said. He was taken to Huntington Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The cause of death is not yet established, police said. Officials could not confirm reports he had gone into cardiac arrest.

Holst was also serving as captain of the fire squad.

"The Huntington Manor Fire Department regrets to announce the line-of-duty death" of the firefighter, Chief Robert Herley said in a prepared statement.

The fire at the Uber Cafe, 334 Depot Rd., was called in at 3:02 a.m. and put out by 3:32 a.m.

The Suffolk County police arson squad is investigating. The owners of the shop are cooperating with the investigation, and there are no signs that the fire is suspicious, police said.

Nathan Khaimov, who said he has run the cafe in that location for about a year and a half, was in the parking lot early Wednesday, pacing and smoking. He said he had been interviewed by an arson investigator.

A bagel shop at the same location was leased by the victim of a domestic shooting and her husband, Ann and Robert Anderson, before Khaimov bought it, records show.

Robert Anderson was convicted in March of shooting to death his estranged wife in 2007 as she worked behind the counter of another bagel shop they ran in Huntington.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service