Community mourns loss of historic New Hartford building after massive fire; 3 firefighters hospitalized

A historical building in New Hartford was destroyed in a massive fire early Tuesday morning.
The New Hartford House has been the community's centerpiece along Rt 44. since 1850, surviving for generations until the blaze. What's now a burned-out shell used to house 14 apartments on the two upper floors, and six businesses on the ground floor.
"The fact that this building was the heart -- located in the heart -- of this town, is devastating," said Litchfield County Regional Public Information Officer  Jon Barbagallo.
Litchfield County Dispatch got numerous 911 calls from residents around 2:30 a.m. who woke up to flames on the third floor and roof of the building.
Three firefighters went to the hospital --- one firefighter from Burlington, a 26-year-old, had a serious medical issue on scene and is in critical condition.
"Between on-scene, standing by and mutual aid, we had over 31 fire and EMS departments activated in some shape or form and probably upwards of 75 firefighters here trying to get tenants out, and trying to put the fire out as quickly as possible," Barbagallo said.
Nearly two dozen people are displaced. Officials say 20 adults and two children lived there, all of whom are OK.
Community members gravitated to the still-smoking site to see the devastation for themselves and relive old memories.
"This building has very much been a part of our lives and our children's lives. My husband and I spent a lot of time at what was originally the Pink Hotel," said Anita Baxter of New Hartford.
"I had someone come up to me today that said their first date with their now-husband of 35 or 40 years was at the restaurant/bar around the corner. And that's ... it's all gone," said Barbagallo.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.