A used appliance store in East Hartford caught fire early Wednesday morning.
According to East Hartford Fire Chief John Oates, firefighters were called to the scene of the fire at about 2:15 a.m.
When crews arrived, Oates said they encountered "significant fire" in the rear of the building, which is the J. Used Appliances, at 1030 Tolland St.
Oates said the fire got into the attic of the building and ultimately caused the roof to collapse.
"In seconds, it went from good visibility and not a lot of heat to blacked out, couldn't see, heats increasing," Oates said. So, it's an indicator of the fire is growing."
They were able to get the fire out.
"They gave it a good fight," Oates said. "On arrival, there was a lot of fire in the back of the building. The guys made a pretty decent push and got it, but there [was] so much fire in the attic that once it gets a hold of the attic, the roof structure is compromised so at that point it just seemed more prudent to take a step back and fight it from the outside."
The merchandise, including washers, dryers, stoves, ovens and refrigerators, inside didn't do firefighters any favors. In fact, officials said the owner of the building has been in trouble in the past for stacking the appliances too high.
"It added a whole extra layer to the operation that complicated things and made things take a little bit longer," Oates said.
Firefighters also found signs that people had been living in the building.
"It does look like there was possibly could have been an illegal dwelling unit," Oates said. "Obviously, it's a commercial building, [it] probably wasn't permitted to be there."
No injuries were reported and the owner of the business was on scene when firefighters arrived.
He told Channel 3 that he has owned the store for seven years and lived there with his wife, three young children and their dog.
He said he got everyone out and dialed 911.
"I'm sure there's a lot of layers to it that we'll peel away and figure out what's going on," Oates said.
Crews from Hartford, Manchester and West Hartford were called in for mutual aid.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Oates added that if anyone in the neighborhood is having issues with their water, those customers should contact the Metropolitan District Commission.
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