NAUGATUCK — A Friday afternoon fire at Southwood Apartments on Rubber Avenue forced the evacuation of one building and displaced at least four families.
Almost 30 firefighters from the borough, Waterbury and Oxford responded to the blaze in Building 8 at 933 Rubber Ave.
No residents or firefighters were injured, said Paul Russell, the borough’s second assistant fire chief. The fire was reported just after 3:30 p.m. by a resident who worked with police to evacuate the building and some nearby apartments in the next building, Russell said.
Firefighters arrived to find black smoke pouring from the building and flames jumping from the space between the ceiling and the roof in between two units, Russell said.
Firefighters used three lines from a nearby hydrant to extinguish the fire. Russell estimated it took 25 minutes to locate and put out the flames.
The cause of the fire was still under investigation Friday evening.
At least four of the building’s 18 apartments were damaged to the point of being temporarily uninhabitable, Russell said. The American Red Cross was called to assist families with relocation, he said.
Everyone was evacuated and no one had to be rescued, Russell said.
Anais Gonzalez, 29, lives in apartment 8B, one of the two that caught fire. Gonzalez said she was in the apartment with her mother, children aged 3 and 10 and their dog when they heard a loud boom.
Seconds later, a neighbor knocked on the door and screamed “Fire!” Gonzalez said she opened the window to see who was knocking and smelled smoke. She grabbed what she thought was her purse, which later turned out to be a bag with clothes, and got her family and dog out.
Gonzalez’s mother, 55-year-old Ana Medina, was in the shower at the time and had to be dressed by her neighbors, who brought out sweats and a warm jacket as a cold rain fell.
Family members from Waterbury arrived to offer Gonzalez and her family a place to stay.
“It’s the holidays,” Gonzalez said. “It’s very stressful for everyone. It’s very sad and upsetting. We lost everything. … I just went Christmas shopping. Everything is in there.”