Hundreds of people are left without a home after a large blaze tore through an apartment building at 194 Washington Street in Hartford on Saturday.
Firefighters and EMS crews rescued 4 people with severe burns. Upon arrival, firefighters noticed multiple people needed assistance as the fire spread through the 3rd floor hallway, said Hartford Fire Captain Raul Ortiz.
For many people, the thick smoke and fire was so impassable, the only way out was to jump. Resident Carmen Rivera told Eyewitness News that her only escape from her apartment building was out the window.
"I thought I was going to die," said Rivera. "The fire was at the door already, we couldn't even go out."
As they made their way to the outside through the window, Rivera and her boyfriend spotted a mother and her three, small children trapped on the second floor.
"I was still on the second floor, hanging, and then we were taking the babies out," described Rivera. "One by one, I gave them to my boyfriend and then from there we take them out. And then she was the last and she jumped."
Captain Ortiz told Eyewitness News that firefighters had difficulty getting around the building the battle the blaze.
"The firefighters when entering the building, saw absolutely nothing down the hallways, they had to crawl through a hundred and fifty feet of zero visibility, intense heat," said Ortiz.
"The heat was so intense that the paint was peeling off the walls."
"We tried to save other people too, from the windows, an old man," said Rivera. "He got all burned, but told him not to jump because he was already burned."
Ortiz told Eyewitness News that part of the 135 unit complex will be condemned as crews needed to cut a hole in the roof to ventilate the smoke. The fire was quickly elevated to a 2nd alarm fire to the size and severity of fire, but as well as the cold.
Fire officials said some people have been allowed back inside to collect belongings while fire officials assess the damage. The American Red Cross is assisting the displaced residents.
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