Dyker Heights fireman dies in blaze near Ground Zero

DYKER HEIGHTS - A firefighter who died Saturday while battling a blaze at an abandoned building near Ground Zero was from Dyker Heights.

Joseph Graffagnino, 33, had been with the FDNY for the last eight years. Officials said Graffagnino and 53-year-old Robert Beddia were trapped and inhaled too much smoke, causing both firemen to die.

More than 300 firefighters spent more than seven hours fighting the seven-alarm inferno that spread from the 17th floor. The cause of the fire is under investigation, but Gov. Eliot Spitzer said Sunday polyurethane covers on several floors may have fed the flames.

The Environmental Protection Agency required the covers to stop asbestos from spreading. The skyscraper had been vacant since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Authorities are also probing why nearby water sources failed to work, forcing firefighters to run hoses up to the 17th floor, where the fire started.

AP wire reports contributed to this story.

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