UPDATED: Five residents displaced in New London fire
New London — A Saturday morning fire at two Fuller Street homes displaced five residents and sent three firefighters to the hospital with burn injuries.
City fire Chief Thomas Curcio said firefighters were called about 9:34 a.m. for the structure fire that started at 61 Fuller St. and spread to the home next door at 65 Fuller St. The cause hadn't yet been determined as of Saturday evening. "In the back of 61, I was originally told it might be a gas-fed fire because it may have had a grill hooked up to it," he said, "but I don't know if that was the case."
"The on-duty battalion chief got everybody out on the road. Everybody was responding, all three firehouses," Curcio said. "When he got there, he immediately transmitted a second alarm because the wind kept pushing the fire into the house next door."
"Three firefighters sustained first- and second-degree burns on their face and neck from some of the hot embers blowing around," Curcio said. They were taken to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, where they were treated and released, then came back to work, he said. "Originally they made an interior attack in both of the houses but, because the roof was starting to collapse, we withdrew," he said. "We tried to hit it from outside with our ladder truck."
"We had a lot of equipment up there, and the wind wasn't in our favor," he added. Complicating the situation were live wires that firefighters had to avoid as Eversource came to clean up the downed power lines.
Three people from one home and two from the other were displaced. Curcio said the homes were damaged beyond repair and that a pet, which he believed was a dog, likely died in the fire.
"None of the residents, none of the homeowners were injured. They did lose a pet in one of the houses, they couldn't find it," Curcio said. "They did say the pet was still inside. We couldn't make entry into the home, there was just too much fire on both floors."
Fuller Street and the immediate surrounding area, including Ashcraft Street, were closed to traffic during the blaze. More than 20 people gathered outside of the police tape to watch firefighters battle the blaze, with some personnel spraying water onto the roof of one of the homes from the top of a ladder truck.
Leizel Pipogo, who was at the scene, said her husband occasionally works at one of the homes that was on fire. The owner of that home called Pipogo’s husband to go take care of the owner’s mother, who lives at the home, but Pipogo’s husband was working and asked Pipogo to go instead.
“The owner of the house called my husband and said, ‘Can you come to the house because the neighbor’s house is burning,'” Pipogo said. “My husband asked if I could pick the mother up, but I see her, she’s already outside. She’s fine, she’s there, I’m just waiting for her.”
Pipogo said a firefighter told her that she had to keep waiting because the smoke was overwhelming closer to the home.
Salvation Army staff were at the scene supplying water and Gatorade to victims of the fire and said they were anticipating displacements because the two homes were fully involved in flames.
Curcio said the fire took about an hour to knock down. He thanked Groton, Waterford and Mystic River ambulance crews and Poquonnock Bridge, Flanders, Norwich and Waterford fire departments for their mutual aid. He noted that Waterford firefighters had to put out a brush fire going into Bates Woods toward Colman Street, which was a result of the wind driving the fire from the two homes in different directions.