Residents Injured Jumping from Burning Building

Tuesday, Jan 15, 2013  |  Updated 11:18 AM EDT
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Residents Injured Jumping from Burning Building

Liz Dahlem, NBC Connecticut

Seven people were injured in a fire in East Hartford.

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Thirteen residents and firefighters were hurt during a three-alarm fire at Gateway Estates, a complex on Ellington Road in East Hartford and firefighters are treating the blaze as suspicious.

When firefighters arrived, children and adults who were trapped on the second floor were jumping from windows.

This building has been a problem spot in the past with at least five intentionally set fires since the summer.

"It's disappointing. I mean you look at the number of people in the building, you look at the number of occupants, you look at the risk to them, you look at the risk to the firefighters. Now, as far as I know, we've transported nine residents, three firefighters, and a police officer. That's by my math, that's about 13 people too many," Chief John Oates, of the East Hartford Fire Department, said.

The fire on Tuesday started just before 4 a.m. on the second floor of a unit, officials said and fire crews were searching to ensure everyone made it out of the building.

William Perez, assistant chief of the fire department, said one person suffered serious injuries.

Forty units, housing an estimated 100 residents, were evacuated and several residents’ apartments were ruined by the smoke and fire.

All the residents who have been displaced are asked to go to the North End Senior Center at 40 Remington Road. Check in with the center staff so appropriate services can be provided.

On Jan. 7, firefighters responded to the building when about a dozen small fires were set in front of apartment doors and in the laundry room.

Officials from the East Hartford Fire Department said there have been four suspicious fires at Gateway Estates in the last few years.

On Dec. 15, police responded to fires in a stairwell and in the lower laundry room. Firefighters also responded to fires at 12:29 a.m. on Oct. 31, at 4:02 a.m. on March 26, 2012 and at 8:25 p.m. on Oct. 9, 2009.

It’s too early to say if the Tuesday morning fire is suspicious.

The fire marshal is investigating. 

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