NAUGATUCK — Fire marshals continue to investigate the cause of a Sunday night fire at a Terrace Avenue apartment building that injured a tenant and firefighter and displaced occupants of all 12 units.
One woman who lived on the third floor of Terrace Apartments at 66 Terrace Ave. was hospitalized for smoke inhalation but was later released, Fire Chief Ken Hanks said. A firefighter was also hospitalized for physical exhaustion, but Hanks said he was coming back to work Monday night.
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but it does not appear to be arson, said Robert Weaver, acting fire marshal. The blaze started in the living room of a ground-floor apartment, in the area of a hutch and a miniature decorative Christmas village, Weaver said. The woman who is the apartment’s sole occupant was gone for several hours and saw the fire as soon as she opened her door Sunday night, Weaver said.
“It looked like it was burning for a long time and she was gone all day,” Weaver said.
As soon as the woman saw the fire, she turned around and ran out, leaving the door open, Weaver said. Fire vented outside the apartment through the open door. Weaver said fire officials recommend residents close their doors in such situations to keep fire from spreading.
Firefighters had to rescue six people Sunday night who were stranded on the upper floors during the fire.
“The smoke just went up into the third floor, which is common in these old buildings,” Weaver said.
The building has three floors with four studio or one-bedroom apartments per floor, Hanks said. It was built in 1860 and is appraised at about $1 million. Officials said they could not yet estimate how much repairs would cost.
The apartment where the fire started will need to be completely rebuilt and the woman who lived there will have to relocate, fire officials said. Electricity to the whole building has been cut until wiring damaged by the fire is repaired. Other residents will be able to return to their apartments when they are cleaned of smoke damage and power is restored, Weaver said.
Weaver said he was not sure how many people lived in the building because some of the people upstairs seemed to be visitors.
Insurance representatives visited the building Monday and cleaning crews began working. Owner Wayne Buckmiller, a former director of Buckmiller Brothers Funeral Home, was also on site but declined to comment.