Feb. 09--BRIDGEPORT -- Fire officials have called in an accelerant-sniffing dog to help determine if a fire that destroyed a vacant home on Hancock Avenue on Sunday was caused by arson.
Assistant West Side Chief Christopher Martin said investigators requested the dog from the state fire marshal's office.
"The home is in foreclosure," Martin said. "It's been vacant for about a year."
However, the assistant chief said, someone had been working on the home and put in a new back porch, siding and gutters.
"With as much fire as there was, you want to bring in the dog to smell if any accelerants were used," Martin said.
He said firefighters arrived at about 10:15 a.m. to find the top two floors of 880 Hancock Avenue completely engulfed in flames. Those flames began licking the siding of the adjacent house at 894 Hancock Avenue, melting the siding and damaging the gutters.
Hancock Avenue, off of Fairfield Avenue, is filled with older, multi-family homes, many built just five to eight feet apart on the street's even-numbered side, where the fire occurred. The damaged building is near the Re-Entry Ministry on Fairfield Avenue.
"We got two aerial trucks in great position," Martin said. "Our guys were able to get water quickly on it. They stopped it before it got inside (the adjacent homes)."
The intensity of the blaze forced the evacuation of the multi-family homes on each side of the burning building. Firefighters helped lead and elderly woman out of one of the nearby apartments.
The fire also burned power lines, forcing United Illuminating to shut down a transformer in the area. That left the street without electricity for about three hours.
Additionally, Martin said a firefighter was slightly injured when he slipped on ice that formed on the floor of the ladder truck bucket he was in. The firefighter toppled into a nearby tree, but was able to get back into the bucket.
"It's always difficult when your spraying water in freezing temperatures," Martin said. "The water had to be 2 feet deep here while we were fighting the fire."
About 32 firefighters from four engine and two ladder trucks fought the blaze.
"It took us about 45 minutes to put it out," Martin said.
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