Man Saved From Bedroom Fire
71-Year-Old Hospitalized, Is In Critical Condition
October 22, 2002
By MATT BURGARD, Courant Staff Writer
A 71-year-old man was hauled unconscious out of his smoke-filled apartment Monday morning after a fire started in a Hartford elderly housing complex, forcing dozens of residents to be evacuated.
The fire started in the apartment of Francis Dinapoli, who was carried out of the St. Christopher's Apartments building at 360 Main St. by firefighter Vifredro Santana. He was flown by helicopter to Norwalk Hospital, where he was in critical condition Monday night.
Fire investigators said the blaze was started accidentally in Dinapoli's second-floor bedroom, though the exact cause remained unclear Monday night. Investigators also are looking into an apparent failure by the building's hallway corridor smoke detectors, which did not signal an alarm as smoke seeped out of the apartment and up through the rest of the building.
Instead, the building's main fire alarm system was activated by someone inside who pulled the lever shortly after the blaze began about 8 a.m., fire officials said.
Heavy smoke from the fire spread so quickly that dozens of residents had to be evacuated with no jackets or other clothing to protect them from the cold. About 50 residents were escorted to South Congregational Church across the street, where they were given blankets and hot chocolate.
Among the first firefighters to reach Dinapoli's apartment was Santana, who was crawling on his hands and knees in an effort to avoid the rising smoke when he saw a man's feet and legs on the kitchen floor.
"We realized the man who lived there was still inside, but he was totally unconscious," said Santana, who joined the Hartford department two years ago.
Santana hoisted Dinapoli over his shoulders and carried him out of the complex, where waiting crews from Hartford's Engine 15 immediately revived his breathing before sending him to the hospital, Deputy Chief Michael Ciccarelli said.
When the fire broke out, it took just minutes for the smoke to seep out of Dinapoli's apartment and rise outside and inside the building.
"I looked out my window, saw the smoke start to come up and then you couldn't see anything," said one resident of the seventh floor, who asked not to be identified.
Most of the residents in the 100-unit building, which is federally subsidized and houses some non-elderly residents, were allowed to return to their apartments by 11 a.m.
From the church, firefighters escorted most of the residents across the busy intersection of Main Street and Buckingham Avenue to their apartments.
"Here you go. We're gonna get you warm now," firefighter Paul DeLucco said to a wheelchair-bound resident, Michaela Johnson, who later said she was grateful for the attention shown by firefighters.
Fire crews were able to extinguish the blaze within a half-hour of reaching the building, and flames did not extend beyond Dinapoli's apartment, Ciccarelli said.
Investigators said the building does not have a sprinkler system. Firefighters were notified of the blaze through 911 calls from residents, officials said.
Nucu Stan Ioan, who is head of the tenants association in the building, said he heard alarms when the fire started to spread through the building, but he was not sure if they were from the primary alarm system or the smoke detectors. Another resident, Tom Gaeta, said he heard alarms, "but they weren't very loud. They were very dim."
Fire Chief Charles A. Teale Sr. said the cause of the malfunction in the smoke detector system was being investigated. The building's manager, Faina Gruman, declined to comment on the fire Monday.
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10-22-2002, 09:55 AM #1
Hartford Man Saved From Bedroom FireIACOJ Agitator
Fightin' Da Man Since '78!
10-23-2002, 02:53 PM #2
If the patient had smoke inhalation, they probably took him to Norwalk because they have a hyperbaric(sp?) chamber. I'm reaching here, but that would make sense to me."The hero is commonly the simplest and obscurest of men."
-Henry David Thoreau
Visit my dept. at www.TCFD.com
10-23-2002, 05:15 PM #3
All burn cases I have heard of before from this area resulted in people be transferred down to Bridgeport. Have to wonder about that one too.
Side note: My best friend and his brother just got fitted for gear in Hartford the other morning. They are supposed to start Hartford's academy in November.IACOJ Agitator
Fightin' Da Man Since '78!
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