Published May 23. 2013 10:00AM Updated May 23. 2013 11:53PM
Norwich - The Norwich fire marshal's office has ruled a fire late Wednesday that displaced 21 people from an apartment building in Taftville accidental, caused by the failure of an overloaded extension cord running between two apartments.
Norwich Fire Marshal Kenneth Scandariato said a lengthy investigation revealed the cord was running between apartments on the second and third floors, out one window and into another, at the six-unit building on 490 Norwich Ave.
Scandariato said it appears the cord could not handle the electrical load. The fire started between floors and burned into the walls, traveling into the attic.
Fire crews from Taftville and several other departments were called out at 11:30 p.m. when someone saw fire coming out the rear of the building and two third-floor windows, said Taftville Fire Chief Tim Jencks.
The fire was contained to the third floor and roof, but other units had smoke and water damage. The six units in the building all are three stories, including common attic space, Jencks said.
One firefighter was transported to The William W. Backus Hospital with a minor back injury, Jencks said.
Crews from Taftville, Yantic, Lisbon and Occum volunteer departments and two crews from the Norwich Fire Department responded.
Jencks said crews on ladder trucks from Norwich and Taftville cut holes in the roof and vented the heat, while other firefighters "aggressively" attacked the fire from within the structure.
"The crews did a very, very good job," said Jencks, who was working elsewhere and unable to respond to the scene. "Everybody worked together. Because of the size of the structure, the key was to get as many crews as possible to the scene."
The American Red Cross said in a press release that it is helping 14 people – 12 adults and two children – in two families. The Red Cross is providing both families with assistance for emergency clothing and food needs. A third family of three adults and one child was also displaced but did not require assistance.