Hamden Fire sends 4 to hospital

Hamden Fire sends 4 to hospital
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Two residents and two firefighters went to hospital on Wednesday afternoon with non-fatal injuries after a fire broke out in the basement of a six-story apartment complex in Hamden.

Fire Chief Gary Merwede said the alarm went off at 2:23 p.m. on Wednesday at 680 Mix Avenue, one of the large apartment buildings in the Broadmoor Apartments complex. The ministry dispatched a truck at 2:24 a.m.

When crews arrived five minutes later, they discovered a basement fire crawling into the building.

Merwede said they immediately called another alarm and simultaneously launched fire extinguishing and rescue operations.

A firefighter appears to have suffered from heat exhaustion, he said. Another suffered a burn to his leg. The two went to the hospital.

Merwede said four police officers breathed smoke while helping people out of the building. They refused to be taken to hospital.

Two residents were also hospitalized with non-fatal injuries.

At 5 p.m., crews were still making sure the building was safe. They cleaned the apartments just above the starting point of the fire, which sustained heavy damage.

The residents were standing outside, unsure of when they could return home.

Mike Virgalla and his python Max (pictured above) made it out of the building with no problem.

“The alarm went off, I opened the balcony and I see smoke, a smell of burnt plastic, and I walked out here,” Virgalla said.

Max, a small python, was wrapped around Virgalla’s neck as he looked up at the building.

Max was not in a particularly friendly mood, Virgalla said. “He’s a little cold right now. I should have brought my hoodie.

Gabriel Cano, 17, was alone with his dog Paco in his family’s fifth-floor apartment when the fire broke out.

“White smoke all over the room,” he recalls. He left the apartment and helped a neighbor in a wheelchair down the stairs. He said the neighbor had to go down four flights of stairs because he couldn’t take the elevators. Cano said he held Paco in one hand and his neighbor’s pillow in the other, while the neighbor’s girlfriend carried the wheelchair.

Merwede said most residents were able to get out without much help, but firefighters had to transport two people. One was in a wheelchair; the other was old.

The building’s frame is made of wood, Merwede said, and crews discovered a fire in the walls of the upper floors. He said all Hamden firefighters on duty were only at the scene with a crew from New Haven. Crews from Cheshire and North Haven were looking after the rest of the town so the Hamden County could fight the blaze.

Merwede said he hoped to put water back into the building soon. He said two apartments would certainly not be habitable on Wednesday night. He said the city would work with the building management to find temporary accommodation for residents of these apartments, or contact the Red Cross if the management did not have a place to house them.

Merwede said the department is investigating, but has yet to determine the cause of the fire.

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