Fire Chief

American Red Cross Helps 52 People After New Britain Apartment Fire

Some residents had to run past a burning staircase to escape, while others found themselves trapped.

The American Red Cross is helping more than 50 people after a fire at the Springwood Apartments on Allen Street in New Britain on Friday.

Fire officials said crews were called out just after 3 p.m. When they arrived they found heavy fire in the back of the building, with people hanging out of windows looking for help.

Some residents had to run past a burning staircase to escape.

"It was pretty intense. There were particles falling down. I could hear the glass bursting," said Greg Brodginski.

Others found themselves trapped in their apartment. Joann Herrara described the tense moments.

"I go out the window, I see people outside and there's smoke so when I opened the door the black smoke pushed me back so I'm in panic mode trying to get out the third floor. How am I going to come out the window?" Herrara said.

Herrara said she planned to jump until apartment staff grabbed a ladder to reach her.

"I'm about to burn alive. That's what's going through my head. I need to get out," she said.

She found herself unable to move until firefighters arrived, bringing her and another person to safety.

"I didn't want to break my neck coming out the window."

Firefighters said despite a hectic scene, no one was hurt, and all pets appear to be accounted for.

"I'm certainly impressed with the work our firefighters did. The fact that we have nobody injured, we have no loss of life. They did an outstanding job," said New Britain Fire Chief Raul Ortiz.

The state fire marshal is investigating.

The American Red Cross is helping 20 families consisting of 34 adults and 18 children. Officials said they are providing comfort kits with personal care items such as toothbrushes, deodorant, shaving supplies and other items that residents may not have been able to grab during the rush to escape the fire.

On Saturday, Mayor Erin Stewart released a statement about the fire.

“The local American Red Cross has been in contact with the families affected by Friday’s fire and have assisted them by providing them money for three nights of housing. Any resident directly impacted by the fire is encouraged to contact our community services office on Monday so we can help identify needs and link them to community resources so that they can get back on their feet," she said.

Residents will work with Red Cross caseworkers to determine a longer-term recovery plan, according to officials. 

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