A large fire has severely damaged a historic multi-use building in the center of New Hartford known as the New Hartford House on Tuesday morning and a firefighter was rushed to the hospital after experiencing a serious medical issue at the scene, according to officials.
Dispatchers said they received a call about the fire in the multiple occupancy building on Bridge Street around 2:25 a.m.
Crews from 29 departments were called in to fight the fire, authorities said. Over 100 firefighters were at the scene, they added.
A few firefighters were checked out for smoke inhalation at the scene and three firefighters were taken to the hospital to be evaluated, officials said.
A 26-year-old Burlington firefighter who was transported to the hospital collapsed, and suffered a medical emergency at the scene, according to Burlington Fire Chief Michael Boucher.
The firefighter was taken to John Dempsey Hospital in Farmington where he is listed in critical condition, Boucher said.
Fire officials are withholding the firefighter's name at this time.
“We have some concern for some of our firefighters right now. A few sustained injuries while fighting the fire so prayers for them and hopeful that everybody makes speedy recoveries,” New Hartford First Selectman Daniel Jerram said.
The two floors on the back side of the 16,000 square foot building have collapsed, firefighters said. The extent of the damage is unknown at this time because crews cannot go inside until they assess the safety of the building, they added.
According to officials, the three-story building was built in 1850 and has 14 apartments and six businesses in it. A new owner took over the building a month ago, according to Jerram.
"This has been the gathering point, the hub, the center of New Hartford, for many, many years and right now we're all devastated," Jerram said.
Many of the people who were inside the building escaped wearing little clothing, according to Regional Public Information Officer John Barbagallo. "They've lost everything so it's not going to be a good morning for them," he said. The American Red Cross is assisting the tenants.
All 22 tenants from the building have been accounted for and are safe, Barbagallo added.
Those interested in donating to the victims can do so by dropping off items at Hands of Grace at 8 Wicket Street from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday. They are looking for new socks and underwear, gently used clothing, personal care items such as shampoo, soap, deodorant, feminine hygiene products, small household goods such as pots and pans, linens, towels and dishes, and monetary donations for food.
Right now, the two biggest concerns besides the building on fire is the town hall to the left and more buildings to the right, Barbagallo said. The fire has not spread at this time, he added.
Route 219 and Route 44 are closed in the area, authorities said. There's no word on when the area will reopen.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.