‘I started banging on people’s doors and windows.’ Witnesses describe Bridgeport fire that displaced 30 people, killed pet
About 30 people in Bridgeport can’t go home after a fire in their apartment building Monday night damaged all 12 apartments. It started in an apartment on the third floor, but the cause is still under investigation.
911 calls came in around 9:15 p.m. reporting flames in the brick building on the corner of Fairfield and Howard avenues. Witness Junaro Cruz was across the street when he heard glass breaking, then realized why, and began yelling to alert people.
“I knew by the way he was screaming my name something was wrong,” recounted a neighbor, who asked News 12 not identify her. “When I came outside, he just kept saying, ‘Fire! Fire!’” The woman said when she looked up at the apartment building, she realized the flames were coming from a third-floor apartment where her friend lived.
“Me and him[Cruz] both panicked. I went in through the double doors right here. He went up through the fire escape,” she told News 12.
“I climb up the ladder. I started banging on people’s doors and windows. Everybody on the top floor got out,” said Cruz. “I went and climbed down the ladder and went into the building and started banging on people's doors.”
“It was scary, very scary,” the neighbor added.
Everyone made it out safely, but a pet rabbit died.
Initially 32 Bridgeport firefighters responded, but 12 more were called to the scene so crews could be rotated out in the heat.
“When you have a high humidity and a high exertion, which comes along with typical firefighter work, it’s a recipe for disaster so we really do a good job with a 24-hour safety officer monitoring each one of our members that are responding to the calls in this particular type of heat,” said Chief Lance Edwards.
Edwards said crews prevented the fire from spreading beyond an adjoining apartment and the attic, but every other apartment suffered serious smoke and water damage. Tuesday morning a lock was put on the building’s front doors to prevent anyone from going inside. Electricity and gas were also shut off. The landlord told News 12 every apartment was rented at the time of the fire. The Red Cross responded to the scene to help people with temporary housing.
“People’s stuff is destroyed, and people are going to be homeless,” said Cruz.