It happened a little after 10 a.m. Thursday at an apartment complex at the intersection of Danbury Road and Candlewood South. The fire took residents by surprise as it spread quickly, before they knew what was happening. Patricia Mendez says she was sleeping when she was jolted awake by Angelo Appi banging on her door ready to rush in save her.
“I woke up, I opened the door and the guy just pushed me, that guy right there,” said Mendez, pointing toward Appi. “He just pushed me and said ‘Grab whatever you can.’”
Appi said he didn’t know if Mendez was home, but he was still willing to risk his life and go into here apartment to save her dog from the flames.
“I was on my hands and knees crawling through the living room, trying to get to the woman’s bedroom where the dog was,” said Appi. “I couldn’t get past the flames. I only had about a six-inch ceiling off the carpet and there was so much black smoke I couldn’t see two feet in front of me.”
His quick thinking saved both of their lives. However, another person’s pet was not as fortunate. Residents say another woman’s dog died in the fire.
Although she is glad to be alive, Mendez is distraught that none of her possessions could be saved. The fire ripped through her apartment. She says she lost everything.
“As soon as we got her to the bottom of the stairs, her whole apartment went up in flames,” said Appi. “Not even 60 seconds [later].”
The fire damaged eight units in total. Residents on scene say it started small but grew to destroy just about every home in that building.
The fire marshal said firefighters used both fire hydrants and tankers to pump in water. Todd Russell, deputy fire chief of New Milford, said several factors made the flames spread, and difficult to put out.
“The temperature, humidity and the location of the fire hydrants,” said Russell. “As you can see the location of the fire hydrants were a little bit of a distance.” According to fire officials, one person was taken to Danbury Hospital with injuries.
And although Patricia Mendez got out OK, she says it will be long road to recovery.
The American Red Cross is helping displaced residents.