19 residents displaced from complex after fire

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BY ANDREAS YILMA

REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

NAUGATUCK — A fire tore through six units of a condominium complex March 8 and displaced 19 people.

Naugatuck firefighters were dispatched at about 9:15 a.m. to Lantern Park Condominiums at 145 Lantern Park Drive. Deputy Fire Chief Ken Hanks and Assistant Fire Chief Walter Seaman were the first to arrive to heavy fire in the rear of the seven-unit, two-story apartment complex, Hanks said.

Firefighters went into the apartment units to search for any residents before it took firefighters at least an hour to put out the fire, Hanks said.

“The fire got up in the attic and ran the length of the building,” Hanks said. “The end unit is not too bad. There’s a lot of water damage at the end unit but all the others have fire damage.”

Smoke and a small flame could be seen hours later at the most affected portion of the condominium complex around 2 p.m.

Firefighters rescued a dog in the first apartment. One firefighter had to be treated for back injuries at Waterbury Hospital. All residents were displaced, Hanks said.

Emergency Management Director Francis Dambowsky said American Red Cross is helping but Naugatuck Office of Emergency Management is housing the displaced residents.

One condominium resident, Donna Best, who lives in the fourth unit in the middle of the condominium complex, said she and her boyfriend were still in bed and about to get up to start the day when a person started to bang on their door.

“We didn’t know who was banging. My boyfriend has a Ring camera so he went to check it and we just saw smoke going in front of the camera,” Best said. “So he just told us to get out.”

Best said they had to leave the unit so quickly ther boyfriend came out in his underwear and she came out in her pajamas.

“We watched the whole thing go up in flames. It’s just surreal,” Best said. “Honestly when I looked out the window from our room, I saw smoke going past it, once we realized what was happening. We would have eventually seen it, I think, but I don’t know if it would have been too late.”

Best said they were able to salvage a few items including her dog’s cage and some pictures but mostly everything else is gone.

“I’m glad we made it out alive,” Best said.

Hanks said everyone worked together to battle the fire. The effort was supplemented by mutual aid from Beacon Hose Co. No. 1 and Waterbury Fire Department. The Volunteer Fire Department of Prospect covered the borough firehouse and responded on scene. The Cheshire Fire Department covered the Naugatuck fire house. Naugatuck EMS came to the scene. Naugatuck police were able to use the department’s drone to help firefighters get an aerial view of the fire, Hanks said.

The property management company for Lantern Park Condominiums has hired a demolition company to knock down at least two of the most affected condo units due to risk of collapse.

The fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause of the fire, Hanks said.