Preston Kirkwood swears he didn't turn his stove on, but that's where the fire started.
He says he'd fried chicken on Sunday night and left the grease in a pot on the stove. He had eaten out and from the living room he heard what sounded like someone trying to break in. But it was the fire breaking out.
He ran out of his apartment and alerted his neighbors even before the fire alarm sounded.
The fire was reported at about 10 p.m. on Tuesday. On Thursday, the fire marshal ruled the fire accidental and are looking at the stove as the point of origin.
Fire crews had to evacuate 30 to 40 people from Park Side West Apartments at 283 Willets Ave. before they could begin battling the fire. Some of those residents needed help because of the smoke.
In the hours since the fire, some landlords have come forward to offer apartments and are waiving security deposits.
“While we were doing that, we couldn’t extinguish the fire, so it did get ahead of us a little bit,” Ronald Samul, chief of New London’s fire department.
"They were rescuing people out the front here, with that big ladder, out the front window," Anissa Morocca said.
"I don't know where to go. Last night I had a place. Today we have none," said Robin Myrick, who reports flames reaching 40 to 50 feet high.
Everyone made it out safely from the three-story building.
The building previously had a flat roof but it was later modified with a peak, which is where the flames did a lot of damage.
On Tuesday night, the Red Cross set up an emergency shelter at the New London Senior Center. On Wednesday, they were working with the nearly 100 residents who are now out of a home. Some of them losing nearly everything.
Of the 36 units at Park Side West, about 30 are occupied and about 60 residents were displaced.
The fire remains under investigation.