Oct. 09--HARTFORD -- An aggressive fire burned through a vacant three-story building on Jefferson Street Tuesday morning, forcing out firefighters who had been battling the flames from inside.
Adjacent buildings were evacuated, but no one was injured, said Capt. James McLoughlin.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Numerous people called 911 at around 10:25 a.m. to report smoke in the basement of the building at 255 Jefferson St. As firefighters arrived, firefighters saw heavy smoke billowing from all three floors at the back of the building.
"The top floor was rolling heavy black smoke out of the eves and the top windows," said McLoughlin.
Twenty firefighters went into the wood-frame structure with hose lines to put the fire out, but the growing flames pushed them out after 20 minutes, he said.
Flames were visible from windows on both sides of the building as the fire spread to the front of the house.
"It came all the way to the front. It came out of the front window," McLoughlin said.
Neighbors told fire officials that the building was vacant, and firefighters didn't find anyone during the 20 minutes they were inside. Rather than risk firefighters' lives, a deputy chief decided to attack the fire from outside.
The bulk of the fire was out around 12:30 p.m. and firefighters went back inside to search for hot spots.
Neil Berry, who lives in a rooming house next door to the burning building, said he was lying down when he heard a neighbor tell his wife to call the fire department.
He said he opened the door to the back porch and saw smoke coming out of the chimney of the neighboring building. He also saw embers coming toward him.
"I opened up the shade and saw the third floor was a ball of flames," he said.
Stephanie Miller, who was ordered out of her building, was relieved when firefighters brought out her 3-year-old pug, Eva.
"Thank you firefighters!" Miller said, holding up the dog for a television news camera. "My dog is safe. I'm safe. Everyone in the house is safe. It's a good day, people," she said.
While firefighters handled the fire on Jefferson Street, a waste oil tank exploded at a tile manufacturing plant at 301 Murphy Road.
Mutual aid from surrounding towns was called in. The cause of the explosion is also under investigation.
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