Crews spent Thursday night demolishing a building that was home to several families and businesses after a fast-moving fire that afternoon that hospitalized a 22-year-old man and had officials worried the structure would collapse.
It took Hartford firefighters about 40 minutes to control the fire at 310 Franklin Ave on Thursday afternoon. There were four apartments on the second and third floors. Lucy's Fashion and One Direction Market are located on the ground level. Several people are displaced and the businesses in the building lost their stores.
One person had to go to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.
Hartford Licenses and Inspectors condemned the building shortly after fire crews extinguished the blaze. They said they were concerned about an "imminent risk of collapse."
The building was torn down on Thursday night.
“It hurts. This is like a nice neighborhood,” one woman said.
The flames erupted from the three story building around 12:30 p.m. on Thursday. Hartford firefighters raced inside to make sure everyone was out and extinguished the blaze. Firefighters said the smoke and heat were both intense inside.
“They attempted an aggressive attack inside. Were not able to make the third floor at that time the roof started coming down on them," Deputy Chief Dave Serpliss, of Hartford Fire Department's District 1 station, said. "All companies were asked to evacuate the building.”
He ordered them off the third floor when he saw the fire spreading to the stairwells.
A second alarm was raised, bringing about 50 firefighters to the scene for additional help. The fire was very aggressive when they arrived, burning through and collapsing part of the roof and "compromising the extrerior brick walls of the upper floors," according to Hartford fire officials. Then all firefighters were commanded to leave the building and instead tackled the fire from the outside.
Crews began taking the building apart piece by piece as a safety precaution and it will be destroyed soon.
The flames were visible moments earlier from sky cameras along Interstate 91 in Hartford.
While investigators haven't yet provided a cause of the fire or where they believe it may have started, witnesses who watched across the street had their own takes.
“It started in the right-hand corner and there was a third apartment on my right," said Eddie Walker, who was at the bank down the street when he saw the blaze.
He entered the building in an effort to get everyone out who may have been inside.
“All you could hear is crackling. The heat and the smoke came down. I just banged as hard as I could [telling people to] get out and then the windows started blowing out," he said.
He couldn't get into the third floor apartment, where he first saw fire and smoke billowing out.
“There was a black lab and another animal," Walker said. "I tried to get them out. The lab went back in. He wouldn’t come to me. I tried to kick it open. One of the doors. I just couldn’t force it open.”
Hartford Fire Department officials said no one needed to be rescued from the three-story building. One man, 22, was taken to Hartford Hospital after he escaped.
No firefighters were injured.
Alfredo Ossa owns Lucy's Fashions and said he couldn't believe what he saw when he arrived at the scene.
“My wife called me. I come in and I tried to do anything," Ossa said.
He said it's to early to even comprehend life without his business.
"I can't understand what happened and I can't understand why," he said.
Neighbors were saddened for the families and businesses impacted.
“It’s a shame the building is going down," David Handley, of Hartford, said. "I used to go to get my mom’s cigarettes, bread, butter, milk.”
One man recently moved out of the building, but his friends still called this home. He told NBC Connecticut through an interpreter that they lost everything.
"Heart broke, they in the street. They don't know what to say," his interpreters said, translating his words.
Firefighters have not said what may have started the fire. It remains under investigation.
Hartford Fire Department Special Services responded to help the tenants. At least two families will have to relocate and two of the apartments may have been vacant.