NEW HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Firefighters in New Hartford and from around the surrounding areas are battling a three-alarm fire at a historic building in the center of town that sparked overnight Tuesday.
Norfolk Public Information Officer Jon Barbagallo said the fire is on Bridge Street, and over 29 fire departments are on scene and on standby. New Hartford firefighters got the call at around 2:20 a.m.
A burned-out shell is the only thing that remains of the 132-year-old historic centerpiece.
“We heard a big pow and that’s when the window must have exploded, and the flames and the backdraft came shooting in the window. We grabbed our son, and he grabbed the dog and we all grabbed each other and just ran out the house,” said Christine Civitillo.
Barbagallo added that two firefighters were transported to local hospitals with minor injuries and a third, a Burlington firefighter, was brought to the hospital experiencing a serious medical issue.
WEB EXTRA: Drone footage of New Hartford House building fire
Fire officials believe there were 22 people in the building; 21 are accounted for and people told News 8 they saw the other person get escorted out by firefighters.
There is extensive damage. The entire backside of the building has collapsed. The building, known as the New Hartford House, had 14 apartments and six businesses. Before that, the building was a hotel.
“We want to make sure that people have a safe place to go, and we’re going to connect them with the local resources here in New Hartford and the northwest corner,” said Eric Oubre, American Red Cross Senior Director.
While the people who lived there lost everything, the loss of the building will be felt by everyone in town. This was the place to go for special events.
“Twenty-five years ago, I had dinner there with my wife before I asked her to marry me. There’s many stories like that. This has been the gathering point, the hub, the center of New Hartford for many, many years, and right now, we’re all devastated,” said First Selectman Dan Jerram.
Firefighters are asking people to avoid the area. Route 44 through New Hartford center is closed to traffic, and detours may cause delays.
The first selectman also says the New Hartford House was just purchased by a new owner about a month ago. Now, the selectman plans to work with the owner to figure out what the future holds for this important piece of property.
News 8 will update this story as more information comes in.