Flames erupt from condemned building in New Britain - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Flames erupt from condemned building in New Britain

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Fire crews had to use ladder trucks to battle a fire on Arch Street in New Britain. (WFSB) Fire crews had to use ladder trucks to battle a fire on Arch Street in New Britain. (WFSB)
Crews responded to a fire on Arch Street. (WFSB) Crews responded to a fire on Arch Street. (WFSB)

Firefighters battled a fire at a multi-story condemned and abandoned building in New Britain on Friday morning.

The fire was reported at 408 Arch St. around 4:40 a.m. It appears it started on the first floor.

Sergio Lupo, New Britain's director of licenses, permits and inspections, told Channel 3 that the building was condemned on Feb. 1 due to ongoing issues with the property. It had been occupied by tenants up until that point. He reported issues with the units and building violations.

Six apartments were on top and three business areas were on the lower level. None were occupied at the time of the fire.

Friday, flames could be seen from the third story of the building. See photos of the scene here.

"I opened my window. I see the cloud of smoke, and I just jumped out of my bed, and ran up here," said Melissa Cummings of New Britain. "I said 'oh my God! Oh my God, it's my friend's store.' After that the whole building, it's on fire."

Firefighters fought the flames both on the ground and using a ladder truck. They also attacked it from the inside.

One firefighter had to be transported to the hospital for a minor injury.

West Hartford, Hartford and Bristol fire departments also responded to help.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. 

Lupo said city officials responded to a complaint last week that conditions were deplorable and life-threatening for tenants.

The housing division inspected the residential units of the building and found that there were safety issues.

Lupo also said there was evidence that people may have been squatting in some of the units.

Also, he said a club of some kind was occupying one of the commercial spaces in the building. An investigation is underway for that.

Lupo decided to relocate the tenants and condemn the building at the owner's expense. He said the owner, who lives in New York, had been fully cooperative until it came to addressing the building's safety issues.

City officials gave the owner time to make corrections, but ultimately decided to condemn the building on Feb. 1, according to Lupo.

The last contact they had with the owner was last week after the tenants were displaced.

Lupo reported a long history with the owner, which included complaints about blighted conditions and housing code violations.

The Arch Street building is the only building in New Britain that the owner owns.

It has been deemed a total loss, but officials are not sure if it has to be knocked down just yet.

Crews remained on scene to investigate Friday afternoon.

Channel 3 streamed live pictures of flames from its Facebook page here.

Stay with Eyewitness News for updates on air and online. 

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