Three residents and two police officers were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation following a fire that broke out in Hartford on Sunday.
The fire happened at an apartment building on Wethersfield Avenue, around 2 p.m.
A firefighter burned his hand and was taken to the hospital as well.
Residents told Eyewitness News that there was thick, black smoke billowing through the hallways, making it difficult to get out. Officials said some residents had to be pulled out of the building through windows.
"I couldn't grab anything. I had to climb out the window because when I opened my door it was so much smoke that I couldn't bear to go through it, so I had to scream, help, help," said Lori Navarro, who was rescued by firefighters.
There are 30 units in the building, and all residents got out, but three needed to be rescued.
In all, 50 firefighters worked to knock down the blaze as dozens of residents gathered outside and were later put on a city bus to sit in air-conditioning and receive bottled water, while investigators determined what units were safe to return to.
In the meantime, fire officials say the people who remained inside their apartments where the smoke was too thick outside their doors, did the right thing.
"Every case is different, but in this particular case they did the right thing as opposed to subjecting themselves to smoke and possibly being overcome and not making it out. Waiting in place in their apartment and closing the door that kept them in a safe area. Our firefighters were able to get a ladder up to them and do their job and get them out,” said Assistant Fire Chief Darren Hudson.
At this point it seems like the residents on the first and second floors may be allowed to return to their apartments. The American Red Cross will assist people whose apartments were damaged by smoke, fire or water.
It is unclear at this time what caused the fire. A resident reportedly told police that they were smoking a cigarette while near some hair products when the flame was ignited, however the incident remains under investigation.
The American Red Cross is helping nine families, consisting of 17 adults and three children, who were impacted by the fire.
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