Updated Nov. 27, 1:50 p.m.:
A two-alarm apartment fire Sunday morning at the retirement housing complex at 425 Drozdyk Drive caused significant water and fire damage, displaced several residents, but resulted in no injuries.
According to Chief Todd Paige, the 10:20 a.m., 911 call “came in as electrical,” though Paige said the exact cause remains undetermined. He did say that the fire department has responded to a “couple” of previous calls where the bathroom vents were the fire source. Sunday’s fire started in a bathroom, he said.
“I was on the phone and all of a sudden bells went off very loud,” said resident Marlene Simon.
Her husband Bernard finished her thought: “And we had to run.” They left the apartment,and he said he “saw the flames shooting out of the roof,” but had left their dog, Bella inside.
“We were so worried,” Marlene said. A staff member named Terrell “saved him for us,” she said. “The [staff] were all really great and we all got out safely.”
The housing complex sprinkler system engaged, said facility regional director Joseph Hessley.
“We’re conducting a full investigation [into the cause of the fire], and we’re cooperating fully with authorities,” Hessley said. “Our first priority was to make sure the residents [were] safe,” he said.
The evacuation was swift and efficient, but as Paige said, a stove was left on in one apartment and that caused a second fire. No one was hurt, he said. There are 142 residents in the housing complex.
According to Hessley, the occupant of the unit where the fire began, while not in the apartment was “in our community on a lower level.”
Paige said the fire originated in the bathroom but “went to the attic—there was heavy fire in the attic,” he said. He said the fire marshal was investigating the cause of the blaze.
Paige said that “due to very limited staffing it took a little while to get under way [with] a hose line,” adding that the sprinklers were already working and helping to extinguish the blaze. He said the “fire was actually showing from roof vents.”
Paige said two facility staff members had tried to extinguish the fire. He said there was “pretty significant” water damage that firefighters were trying to mitigate by laying down tarps. Paige said the building where the fire started had its power shut off and while he wasn’t certain the exact number, he said there were approximately 30 apartments in the building and a number of those residents would be temporarily relocated.
Hessley did not have exact numbers or a location where residents would be moved to.
The fire brought out firefighters from Groton, Center Groton, , , New London and Gales Ferry, ambulances from Mystic and Lawrence & Memorial. A dispatcher said “all our units” were at the scene at 11 a.m., and Groton utility trucks were also on scene.
Paige said the nature of the community demographic dictated the large and comprehensive response.
Nov. 27, 11:35 a.m.: An electrical fire broke out in an apartment at this morning, but was confined to the apartment's bathroom, according to firemen at the scene.
A woman was in the apartment when the fire broke out, but managed to escape without any injuries, according to the firemen. The fire did damage to the apartment and other apartments in the 55-and-older independent living facility on 425 Drozdyk Drive, according to the firemen.
Firefighters from Groton, Old Mystic, New London, Gales Ferry and Waterford came to put the fire out. A full story with pictures and video will be posted soon.