Norwich fire displaces residents, sends one to the hospital

Fire and police officials stand in front of 27 McKinley Ave. in Norwich after a morning fire there displaced 10 people, including one whom crews had to remove from the home and take to the hospital, on Thursday, April 20, 2017. (Lindsay Boyle/The Day)
Fire and police officials stand in front of 27 McKinley Ave. in Norwich after a morning fire there displaced 10 people, including one whom crews had to remove from the home and take to the hospital, on Thursday, April 20, 2017. (Lindsay Boyle/The Day)

Norwich — A Thursday morning fire on McKinley Avenue has displaced 10 people, including one whom crews had to remove from the home and take to the hospital, according to Battalion Chief Gregory Despathy.

The fire, which began on the first floor of the four-apartment home at 27 McKinley Ave., was called in at 8:21 a.m. and took about 15 minutes to knock down, Despathy said.

Irene Martinez, a resident of an upstairs apartment, wasn’t home when the fire started, but she was one of the first people to see it.

She had just dropped off her older sister and was coming back home when she saw flames through the window.

As soon as she saw the fire, she said, “I started yelling and screaming for someone.”

As her mom called 911, another neighbor came over and asked Martinez if anyone was inside. When Martinez said she believed so, he broke a side window, hoping to get any occupants outside to safety.

The neighbor wasn’t able to go in — the heat was too much, Martinez said — but firefighters quickly arrived and entered. They rescued a man from one of the first floor apartments, Despathy said, and transported him to the hospital.

Martinez said the man’s name is Dan, and that he and his partner Kyle live in the downstairs apartment.

“We’re good friends with them,” she said.

The fire victim initially was taken for treatment at The William W. Backus Hospital and later transferred to Bridgeport Hospital, Despathy said.  

Martinez said her mother and grandfather also went to the hospital. Her grandfather, she said, was in a room directly above the flames and inhaled a good amount of smoke.

Firefighters confirmed several animals also were in the house, but did not report on their condition.

Martinez said about 11 a.m. that she had not been allowed to go inside but officials told her she would be able to grab some things after the fire marshal wrapped up his investigation. From there, Martinez said, she and other residents would head to a hotel for a few days.

Martinez, who has lived in the apartment for about four years, was upset about the prospect of moving.

“Right when you get comfortable, you’ve got to leave again,” she said with a sigh.

Despathy said firefighters know the blaze started on the first floor but its cause remains under investigation. The Norwich fire marshal's office was investigating the cause and origin with assistance from the state fire marshal's office and Norwich police.

The Red Cross was providing temporary housing and emergency kits for the victims.

The house currently is uninhabitable. Records show it belongs to Sunshine Houses LLC.

Day Staff Writer Greg Smith contributed to this report.

l.boyle@theday.com 

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