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‘I Am So Grateful:' Woman Rescued by DPW Workers During House Fire Shares Story

Three Department of Public Works employees helped a family escape a burning house while attending to city trash collection duties in New Haven Tuesday.

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A family who escaped a house fire in New Haven early Tuesday morning has some city workers to thank. Three members of the Department of Public Works rushed to the rescue when they saw the fire around 5:30 am.

Juanita Bryant was among those in the home when it caught fire, and says she woke up to a smoke-filled room.

“I said to my husband, there’s a fire. Because it was so smoky you couldn’t see,” she said.

Bryant says she was frightened when she realized her family was in danger. Three adults and three children, ages 5 to 9 years old, were in the Shelton Avenue house.

"You couldn't hear, you couldn't see, like, I'm screaming for them," Bryant said, describing the conditions in the home.

While they were inside looking for a way out, city workers nearby rushed to help.

“They were picking up trash this morning, saw the smoke, came over and actually did a lot of good here,” said New Haven Director of Emergency Operations Rick Fontana.

Inside, Juanita Bryant’s husband forced an air conditioner out of place for some family members to escape.

“He told my granddaughter to get out and go through her window,” said Bryant.

Climbing onto a lower roof which stood about 14 feet above the ground, Bryant says she and her grandson waited for help. Nearby city workers collecting trash rushed to their aid.

“They came running over, they tried to bust into the house. The door was locked, they couldn’t get there,” Bryant explained.

Persistent, the three public works employees found another way. Standing below the roof area where Bryant and her grandson were standing, they waited.

“(My grandson) jumped to them, and then I jumped to them,” said Bryant.

Tuesday night, the City of New Haven is praising the efforts of their city workers turned good Samaritans. They have not been publicly named.

Bryant said she is hoping to find out the names of those workers so she can send them a proper thank you.

"I am so grateful," Bryant said.

“Guys that are picking up trash and then going and rescuing someone. I think that reflects the values that we have as a community,” said New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker.

One family member and two of the city workers were treated for minor injuries at a local hospital. All are recovering.

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