Firefighter low on air and briefly trapped
Tara O’Neill, Connecticut Post
FAIRFIELD (Houston Chronicle) – A local firefighter was briefly trapped while running low on air battling what fire officials described as a “dangerous” fire in a duplex Wednesday night, officials said.
Units were dispatched to a two-family home on Bloomfield Drive around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday after the town’s Emergency Communications Center took a call from a neighbor reporting smoke coming from the house.
The first fire unit on scene reported a working fire with smoke visible from the first floor and the attic eves, fire officials said.
The flames ignited in the basement crawlspace, extending into both of the units of the two-family home.
Firefighters “aggressively attacked the fire,” officials said, getting hoses into the crawlspace and on the first and second floors.
Firefighters from Bridgeport and Westport responded to help as firefighters struggled with heavy smoke, multiple building renovations and access challenges, officials said.
A mayday alert was called when a Fairfield firefighter from Engine 3 ran low on air while fighting the flames and was briefly trapped on the second floor. Officials said fellow firefighters rescued the firefighter — who had managed to find his way to an open window — by raising a ladder to help him down.
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Officials said the firefighter who was briefly trapped was uninjured but checked out by paramedics on scene as a precaution. He went back to work after he was evaluated.
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All occupants were out of the building by the time firefighters got there.
The owner and resident of one side of the duplex told officials he had a large tropical fish tank on the first floor and kept valuable tropical birds in a room on the second floor. Firefighters were able to find and protect the birds as firefighters’ efforts continued. Once the fire was under control, they helped the owner remove them from the home.
Personnel from United Illuminating responded to shut down the power to the home while firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze, shutting down power to some nearby residents. Power was restored in the area a little after midnight, except to the home where the fire happened.
With the power out, the tropical fish who depend on the aquarium heater and filter for survival, were at risk, officials said, so firefighters were able to secure an emergency generator for the fish tank from the Southport Volunteer Fire Department once the fire was under control. The fish survived.
Bridgeport, Easton, Norwalk, Westport and Southport firefighters provided station coverage in Fairfield while crews were on scene.
The fire was reported under control by 10:45 p.m.
“This was a dangerous, stubborn fire that was very difficult to extinguish,” said Assistant Fire Chief George Gomola, the incident commander. “We are very grateful the ‘mayday’ was quickly resolved and that no firefighters or civilians were hurt or injured.”
Both units in the home were damaged by fire. All occupants were displaced until repairs could be made.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.