A 32-year-old woman and her dog died in a predawn fire in a Dix Hills cottage on Wednesday, despite the efforts of her parents and three Suffolk police officers, who tried to save her, authorities said.
Tanya Bathija lived in a cottage behind her parents' home on Carlls Straight Path, said Suffolk Police Det. Lt. Kevin Beyrer, head of the department's homicide squad.
Bathija's father woke up early to exercise before work and when he looked out the window noticed the cottage on fire, Beyrer said.
“He alerted his wife at the same time as he called 911. They ran outside to the cottage and tried to get her out but it was fully engulfed," Beyrer said.
More than 60 firefighters and rescue workers launched "an aggressive attack on the blaze," which was reported at 2:54 a.m., Dix Hills Fire Department spokesman Steve Silverman said by email.
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Two Suffolk County patrol officers and a sergeant "attempted to enter the cottage but were repelled by fire," police said.
They were taken to Stony Brook University Hospital for smoke inhalation. Beyrer said their injuries are not considered serious. Four firefighters were also treated at the site for minor injuries, Silverman said.
Scene of the fatal fire on Carlls Straight Path in Dix Hills on Wednesday. The Dix Hills Fire Department is pictured battling the blaze. Credit: Dix Hills Fire Department
Efforts to reach Tanya's parents, Ben and Sonia Bathija, were not successful. The couple also has two sons, Ameed and Pooja.
"Sixty-five firefighters couldn't save her," said Ameed Bathija, adding that his sister was a successful business franchisee and beauty pageant contestant. He said the family was asking for privacy as they make funeral arrangements.
Bathija and her family owned at least eight Dunkin’ Donuts stores across Suffolk, including in Patchogue, Blue Point and their latest location on Montauk Highway in Bellport, records show. Ben Bathija immigrated to the United States from India when he was 17, news reports indicate.
A Dunkin' spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.
Earlier this year, Tanya Bathija joined the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce, said David Kennedy, the group's executive director.
"She was a very enthusiastic, energetic business leader," Kennedy said. "We were grateful that she brought Dunkin’ Donuts here to our community. I know she was looking to expand further and had spoken about other projects she was looking forward to in Patchogue. So it's certainly a tremendous loss for our community."
Tanya Bathija received an undergraduate degree in international business and fashion design from the Fashion Institute of Technology and a MBA in accounting and finance from Baruch College.
The fire has been preliminarily ruled noncriminal. Investigators are looking into whether the cottage, which is roughly the size of a two-car garage, had working smoke detectors.
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