Cause of apartment fire an accident

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Firefighters from the borough and Waterbury battle a fire Friday on the roof of Building 8 of Southwood Apartments on Rubber Avenue in Naugatuck. –RA ARCHIVE

NAUGATUCK — The cause of the fire Friday afternoon at the Southwood Apartments on Rubber Avenue has been determined to be an accident that stemmed from repairs being made to a bathroom.

Acting Deputy Fire Marshall Bill Scanlon said a worker was using a blowtorch to heat old glue attached to tiles in the bathroom of unit A in Building 8 of the apartments. He said as the worker was doing this the heat caught the wall on fire and the fire then spread to the ceiling.

The fire was reported at 3:30 p.m. and almost 30 firefighters from the borough, Waterbury, and Oxford responded to the blaze in Building 8. No one was injured during the fire, which was put out in about 25 minutes.

Scanlon said three inhabited apartments were damaged and a fourth, vacant apartment smelled like smoke but didn’t have any physical damage. He said the tenants in two of the apartments have been moved to other vacant apartments in the complex and the other tenants are staying with relatives.

A few rooms in two apartments have to be redone, the roof must be fixed, and smoke damage cleaned, Scanlon said. He estimated the damages would total thousands of dollars.

Scanlon said there is nothing suspicious about the fire and ruled it an accident. The investigation remains ongoing, he said, as some final details are put in place, such as whether the worker had a license, worked for the apartments or was subcontracted to do the work. Scanlon said police are handling this side of the investigation.

As message left with Naugatuck police spokesman Lt. Bryan Cammarata was not returned as of this post.