MERIDEN — A second-alarm basement fire in a building at 250 W. Main St. Sunday caused heavy smoke, but resulted in no injuries, according to Assistant Fire Chief Robert Burdick.
The call was reported at 3:45 p.m., Burdick said, where firefighters noticed heavy smoke coming out of the building. He added that it took firefighters 10 minutes to put the fire out, which was found near the electrical panels in the basement of the building. Wallingford and Berlin provided mutual aid.
The building contains businesses in the front, with apartments in the rear of the building and above it. Burdick said he believes there are six apartments in the building and estimates there are 25 tenants.
Burdick said the tenants left the building safely and searched the building multiple times to ensure no one was trapped. He added a dog and a parrot were in the building, and both are fine.
“We did several searches of the building, not just one, to make sure we were not missing anyone,” he said.
It’s unclear what started the fire, as it is still being investigated. The fire marshal was unable to go into the building because of the heavy smoke, Burdick said.
As of Sunday evening, fire officials couldn’t determine if the tenants could return to their apartments.
Electricity and gas were cut from the building until a cause can be determined. The tenants are also temporarily displaced until the fire marshal finds a reason for the fire, Burdick said.
Meriden Police blocked off a section of West Main Street, as the firefighters worked to clear the smoke from the building. Tenants and nearby neighbors filled the sidewalks around the building to watch, as smoke poured out of the front entrance and chimney of the building.
The fire caused smoke to rise throughout the building, Burdick said, with the first floor the most impacted. Before the businesses can begin operating again, the Health Department will have to have an inspection.
Jose Almodovar, a tenant in one of the apartments on the first floor, said smoke came up from the basement level and filled their apartment.
“It was chaos,” he said.
Firefighters could be seen walking on the roof of the building — making sure the fire didn’t extend anywhere else. A number of firefighters were working in front of the building, using chainsaws and electrical saws to cut a hole out from under the window.
“It was hard to get the smoke out from the basement,” Burdick said. “... We had to make those holes to create more avenues for the smoke to come out.”
While there weren’t any injuries, Burdick said some fire fighters were “affected by the heat,” and were checked out by paramedics. Burdick said the firefighters were fine and returned to duty.