An early morning fire in New Haven forced nearly 20 people, including three children, out of their homes in the Newhallville section of the city.
The three-alarm fire was reported around 5:30 a.m. in the area of 111 Hazel St. and quickly spread to 113 Hazel St. Fire crews said when they arrived at the scene, heavy smoke was billowing from the buildings and flames were seen coming from inside.
"If you look at the neighborhood, everything is so close together, wood frame, extends pretty easily," said Fire Chief Michael Grant.
The fire was brought under control in about 30 minutes, but before that, emergency officials said two men needed to jump from the second floor of one of the homes to escape the inferno.
"It was getting too pitch black, so I had to go," said Christian Fontanez, of New Haven.
Fontanez said his wife and their 7-month-old child were already outside the burning home but he stayed behind to get his wallet when he suddenly realized he was surrounded by thick, black smoke.
He said that's when he climbed out a window and jumped off the roof covering the front porch.
"Jumping out the window, I was a bit scared. I'm scared of heights," he said.
Fire officials said in all, 16 adults and three children in four apartments in two multifamily homes were affected.
"She woke up to change the diaper of her baby. When she smelled the fire, she went into the room, woke up her husband, got the baby and went out the back door," said Daphne Rolon, who ran outside in her pajamas and bare feet. "Thank God everyone is OK."
Emergency officials said there were working smoke detectors inside the home, which likely prevented the situation from becoming much worse.
"My family is across the state in Hartford, we don't have family over here," Fontanez said. "I just moved in two months ago, and this happens, I don't know what else to do."
The Connecticut chapter of the American Red Cross said it was assisting the families.
The fire remains under investigation, but officials said there's no reason to believe the fire is suspicious at this time.
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