More than 20 displaced after fire at elderly housing complex in Manchester

Firefighters fought a fire at a senior housing complex in Manchester on Tuesday morning. (WFSB)

A fire at an elderly housing complex in Manchester has displaced 22 residents on Tuesday morning.

The fire was reported at the Bennet Apartments on Route 83, also known as Main Street, near Charter Oak Street, around 9:45 a.m.

"The fire alarm went off and I went out into the hall and the lady in the apartment next to me said get out, my kitchens on fire and the hall was already filling with smoke," resident Nancy Nolan said.

Firefighters arrived within minutes since the firehouse is right down the road.

"A lot of people had to be carried down because we're for the elderly and the handicapped," Nolan said. A lot of people in wheelchairs, walkers and they can't do the stairs."

Twenty-two residents were inside the 45 unit building. The seniors had to be evacuated but quickly found shelter next door at the Army-Navy Club where they found warmth, food and the assistance of the American Red Cross.

"Upon arrival, we were getting residents out of harm's way," Manchester Fire Chief David Billings said. "Fortunately they have the Army Navy Club here so they were able to escort folks right over into the club and they were able to keep warm and had coffee so they were at least comfortable if not shaken up."

The fire was quickly extinguished.

"Well, I happen to be coming home from bowling and was coming up Main Street and saw the fire department and my stepmother lives in the building where the fire was," Cathy Hastings, of Manchester, said. "She's coming to my house."

There were no reports of serious injuries.

"No injuries which is very fortunate because once the fire attack was initiated in that apartment there was heavy smoke in the third floor hallway," Billings said.

The American Red Cross said it is helping the displaced residents.

"Some people have family and friends," Ginger Flynn with American Red Cross said. "Some people will get assistance for lodging so they will have the ability to go where they want to go."

American Red Cross officials said it is working with the city to provide a place for them to stay.

"Work will continue [Tuesday] to ensure that all emergency needs are taken care of, such as any needs for food, clothing, medical needs and casework services," The Red Cross said in a statement.

The fire chief said there was a lot of water damage on the third floor, and while the building does have a sprinkler system, it had been turned off the night before for maintenance purposes.

The building used to be the Bennet High School. It's now owned by the town and managed by a separate company.

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