Fire breaks out in convenience store inside Norwich building

(WTNH/ Kent Pierce)

NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH)– A hot, smoky fire ripped through a building in the northern part of Norwich early Monday morning. The flames broke out around 5:30 a.m. at a building at the corner of Providence Street and South 2nd Avenue in the Taftville section of the city.

“The firefighters were turning off the fire over here because they didn’t know that people lived in this part of the building,” said resident Brendaliz Rojas. “They thought the building was empty. Of course this is hidden.”

Two apartments are hidden behind Michael’s corner Variety Store, which is where the fire seemed to start. The rest of the building is empty

“There was a fire here back in ’83, so the second and third floor have been vacant ever since then, but they were in a state of disrepair,” explained Taftville Fire Department Chief Timothy Jencks.

Rojas says she would have been trapped inside her burning apartment if not for her neighbors banging on her door, waking her up.

“But thanks to the lord we are good,” said Rojas, who escaped with her dogs. “My babies are out. We’re nice and safe. Everything is good.”

Everyone got out safely, and there was only smoke damage to the two apartments. The convenience store is gutted. Firefighters are all safe, but it was a hot, smoky fire. Eight different fire departments helped out.

“The biggest problem we have is the heat,” said Chief Jencks. “We’ve called for extensive mutual aid for manpower so we can rotate our crews in.”

They are used to big fires in Norwich. A series of arson fires led up to a massive blaze that destroyed the old Capehart Mill in 2010. A half dozen people were arrested. The cause of this most recent fire is still under investigation.

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