‘Our angels.’ Norwalk homeowners thank good Samaritans and neighbors for helping put out fire

The good Samaritans used a garden hose to contain the fire until firefighter arrived and quickly brought it under control.

Marissa Alter

Jun 25, 2024, 4:04 PM

Updated 26 days ago


It’s emotional for the Freitags to think about what could’ve been if not for the quick actions of perfect strangers who were playing soccer at Woodward Park in Norwalk across the street from their home.
A game was underway Monday evening until players noticed smoke and flames coming from the Freitags’ porch.
“All these guys from across the street come running in order to help us put out the fire,” recalled Bruce Freitag as he teared up.
Bruce Freitag told News 12 he initially had no idea there was a fire. Around 8:15 p.m., the lights started flickering, making him think there was an electrical issue.
“I went to go look out the front door to see if any wires were down, and that's when I noticed the fire outside. It was glowing a little bit,” Bruce Freitag said, adding he opened the door and saw the soccer players jumping into action.
They grabbed the Freitags' hose and began dousing the porch. His wife, Rita Freitag, was still inside. Rita Freitag explained that she’d gone to the basement to check the breakers, then ran back up after smelling smoke and burning plastic. But by then, Rita Freitag couldn’t escape the house through the front door.
“They told me, ‘Don't come down!’ because all the ceiling was melting down, so I ran out the back door and came around,” Rita Freitag said.
Neighbors also jumped in to help the good Samaritans, including Kevin Dupree. Dupree told News 12 he fell asleep on the couch but was woken by his fiancée after she smelled the fire. Dupree said he was headed to the Freitags when he was intercepted by another neighbor who asked if Dupree had a hose.
“So, I grabbed my hose, gave it to him, and I helped pull it over there, and then there was already several guys in the yard who’d been playing soccer, and they were trying to use the hose that the house has to put it out. So, we gave them our hose, and then they helped contain it, keep it under control, until the fire department came,” Dupree explained. “They were playing soccer, so they could've easily just said, ‘Hey, it's not our problem.’ But they did not. They came over and helped out.”
The Freitags said with everything going on, they didn't get the names of the good Samaritans, but they are blown away that people who didn't know them would get involved, especially in a potentially dangerous situation. Deputy Fire Chief Jonathan Maggio told News 12 the group was from Hugo's Landscaping.
“Without these angels, there was no way calming this down,” Rita Freitag stated.
The Freitags had to spend the night elsewhere and are now awaiting the full damage report, but it's easy for them to see the silver lining.
“The whole house could've gone up,” Bruce Freitag said.
“We feel extremely lucky,” added Rita Freitag. “It wouldn't be possible if we didn't have the neighbors we have. They were all out, every neighbor was here, plus all our angels from the field who got the water up right away.”
The Norwalk Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause. It appears the damage was contained to the porch and front of the house. A fundraising effort has been started to help the couple cover impending costs.

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