Firefighters were hampered fighting a fast-moving blaze at a two-family home by heavy smoke, multiple renovations, and access restrictions, but the crew was able to save some tropical birds and fish kept inside the home in Fairfield County.
The department was alerted to the fire around 9:28 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 18, when a neighbor called to report smoke coming from the home located in the Town of Fairfield at 20 Bloomfield Drive.
Arriving units found a working structure fire with smoke visible from the first floor and attic eves of the building, said the Fairfield Fire Department.
The fire started in the basement crawlspace and extended through a large wall void and pipe chase up through the first and second floor and into the attic, the department said.
Firefighters aggressively attacked the fire, advancing hose lines into the basement crawl space, first and second floors of both units.
Firefighters from Bridgeport and Westport fire departments were called to the scene to assist with suppression efforts.
A “May Day” was called when a Fairfield firefighter assigned to Engine 3 ran low on air while fighting the fire and was briefly trapped on the second floor.
"Fellow firefighters quickly rescued their brother firefighter, who had found his way to an open window, by raising a ladder and helping him down," the department said.
The firefighter was not injured and resumed work on the fire ground after being examined by AMR paramedics on scene.
All occupants had exited the building prior to the department's arrival. The owner and resident of one side of the duplex reported that he had a very large tropical fish tank on the first floor and kept valuable tropical birds in a room on the second floor.
Firefighters located and protected the birds in place, closing the door to the room, opening windows, and using special meters to ensure the air inside the room was safe for the birds to breathe, the department added.
Once the fire was under control firefighters assisted the owner in removing the birds to safety.
United Illuminating responded to the scene and shut down electrical power at the pole, which affected several other homes in the area.
Power was restored by UI to other homes affected by the shut off a little after midnight. Electric power will remain off the fire building.
The electrical power outage threatened the tropical fish who depended on the aquarium heater and filter for survival. After the fire was safely under control firefighters secured emergency power for the fish tank with the help of Southport Volunteer Fire Dept., who provided an emergency generator firefighters used to maintain the filter and the heater, keeping the fish alive, the department said.
According to Asst. Chief George Gomola, the incident commander, firefighters worked very hard to save the structure, the tropical birds, and the things of value important to the residents. He expressed sincere gratitude for the help and hard work of all the firefighters who responded to the scene, the quick response from UI, and the support received and care provided by American Medical Response (AMR).
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Fairfield Fire Marshal’s Office with assistance from the Town of Fairfield Building Official Tom Connelly.
Both units of the duplex dwelling were damaged by fire and the occupants displaced until repairs can be performed.
Firefighters from Bridgeport, Easton, Norwalk, Westport, and the Southport Vol. Fire Departments provided station coverage during the incident.
The fire was determined under control around 10:45 PM.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.