NAUGATUCK — Borough homeowners and their visitors have a former volunteer firefighter and his teenage son to thank for getting them out of their burning home safely.
Gary Pomerenk and his 18-year-old son, Brandon, were headed to the home of Brandon’s friend when they noticed smoke billowing from a house while driving on Maple Hill Road.
Just as they passed 765 Maple Hill Road, they could see flames coming from the back of the house, Gary Pomerenk said.
Pomerenk stopped, backed up his car, and he and Brandon leapt into action. While Brandon called the fire department, his father knocked on the door.
Pomerenk said the people inside had no idea their house was on fire.
“They’re sitting there watching TV,” Pomerenk said.
Pomerenk, who was a volunteer firefighter in Trumbull for about 20 years before he moved to Naugatuck in 1992, said his training kicked in.
He became calm and focused on getting the people out. In a bedroom, he found two people, one of them an elderly woman, walking with a walker. As he was helping the woman Brandon stepped in, ready to assist.
A fire alarm sounded as they were walking out.
Pomerenk, who lives about five blocks away on Longwood Drive, said it took about 10 minutes to get everyone out. He and Brandon stayed for a while, letting the woman with the walker sit in their car to keep warm.
“They were very grateful,” Pomerenk said of the homeowners and their visitors.
Fire officials said six people were inside. Borough records show the home has been owned by Ameico and Maria Lizasuain since 2002.
Fire Capt. Vincent Healy said two engine companies and a truck were on scene for about three and a half hours. Firefighters from Beacon Falls and Prospect helped cover the town.
Healy said the fire was brought under control very quickly despite the wind, which made the work more difficult for firefighters.
The home sustained extensive damage, Healy said, but it can be repaired. Firefighters saved a lot of the homeowners’ belongings.
“It was a great save,” Healy said.
The residents were staying with family, Healy said.
Pomerenk said his clothes smelled like smoke, but he was able to drop Brandon at his friend’s house 90 minutes late.
He said he was impressed with his son for keeping calm “for the most part,” and for following him inside the burning home to help.
“I’m proud of my son,” he said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.