Report by Paula Antolini
July 13, 2017 7:50AM EDT
BREAKING NEWS: Fire in Downtown Bethel in Early Morning Hours with Structural Damage
A fire occurred in the early morning hours on July 13, 2017, damaging buildings on Greenwood Avenue in Bethel.
Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Department reports: “Bethel & Stony Hill firefighters and numerous mutual aid companies responded to a structure fire on Greenwood Ave just after 1:00 a.m. More info to follow. Greenwood Ave is reopened at this time, but use caution in the area.”
We will up date as more information comes in. Press release expected shortly.
UPDATE July 13, 2017, 9:39AM:
Bethel Advocate spoke to Chief Jeffrey Finch this morning, who was on the scene this morning at about 9:20p.m. Finch said, “The fire department pulled a man out of the building last night, saving him from dying.” The man was then taken to the hospital but no word on condition yet.
Water and smoke damage appears to have occurred to stores on the first floor of several buildings and fire/water/smoke damage to second and third floors of the structures. Damage to businesses seems to be for Giggling Pig, The Traveling Wilder and Doherty Petri School of Irish Dancing. Front doors are open and you can smell a burnt odor in the air from a half block away. There is much debris in front of the stores and a large area of the block is cordoned off by yellow fire department tape. Fire officials are on the scene.
Bethel Advocate spoke to Bryan Shelley, the owner of The Traveling Wilder antiques shop, and he said this is a time for everyone to come together and help the displaced families who lived in the buildings. He is asking any residents of local businesses that have fans or dehumidifiers to please help out and loan the equipment if possible, especially to get the businesses up and running again.
UPDATE July 13, 2017, 5:42PM:
Multiple crews from Brookfield, Dodgington, Redding and Danbury Fire Departments worked alongside Bethel Fire Departments early this morning to put out the three-alarm fire at 1:00 a.m. at a 1840 landmark building at 178 Greenwood Avenue, spanning across several storefronts and residences above. Thirteen families were displaced and are being helped by the Red Cross and local Social Services.
Bethel Social services released the following statement:
Helping our neighbors!
Many of you know that there was a fire here in bethel last night which has affected several individuals and families. while it is not known yet exactly what needs replacing we are certain they will need help. the social services department will be supporting some of our local church leaders as they gather and disseminate information as to how you can contribute. Please call heather knight mcmillan at the 1st congregational church 203 743 1877 or send an email to email@example.com to find out what these residents will need most. heather will then share with other church leaders who’ve come forward to assist and families will get what they need the most.
At this time if anyone would like to make a monetary donation or supply a gift card for these families you can do that by stopping by mine or the selectman’s office at the municipal building or by mailing it to:
The Community Council of Bethel
P.O. Box 667
Bethel CT 06801
Should you need to reach me you can call 203 794 8537 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you very much for being so willing to help!
Jenn Lawlor, Director of Social Services
VIDEO UPDATE of AFTERMATH July 13, 2017, 10:13AM:
PHOTO UPDATE of AFTERMATH July 13, 2017, 10:13AM:
Click on each photo to view larger.
MORE PHOTOS of this morning’s fire by Frank Becerra Jr.:
Click on each photo to view larger.
UPDATE July 13, 2017, 6:06PM:
Bethel fire story was on NBC News tonight with an interview with First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker.
This morning Knickerbocker stated: “Serious overnight fire in downtown Bethel last night. Outstanding job by Bethel and Stony Hill fire companies, as well as units from Danbury, Brookfield, Monroe and Shelton, Redding Ridge, West Redding and Trumbull. Three fire fighters suffered minor injuries, one Bethel resident taken to Bridgeport with serious burns. This was a large fire with potential to destroy the entire block. Our volunteers and our neighboring fire crews did a simply amazing job of saving the building. We are fortunate to have them.”
UPDATE July 13, 2017, 9:22PM:
By Rob Fish:
JULY 13, 2017: At 1:01am this morning, the Bethel and Stony Hill Fire Department’s were dispatched to a reported structure fire at 182 Greenwood Avenue. The 200′ x 30′ 3 story wood frame structure was built in 1840, and contained commercial businesses on the first floor, and apartments above.
With the buildings alarms sounding, one of those awakened was a long time Bethel volunteer firefighter. Exiting his apartment, he realized his invalid neighbor was still inside. Under heavy fire and smoke conditions, and without the protection of his turnout gear or SCBA, the firefighter disregarded his own safety and made entry where he found the victim on the floor and proceeded to drag him out to safety where he was assisted by arriving Bethel Police Officer’s, who would also go on to evacuating other tenants from the building.
Arriving firefighters were met with heavy fire blowing out the front windows from the second floor apartment, rapidly extending up the exterior into the third floor and attic space. With the possibilty of others trapped and heavy volume of fire on arrival, Bethel FD Chief Scott Murphy immediately requested a full first alarm assignment from the neighboring city of Danbury who responded with two Engines, one Tower Ladder and one Squad, with Deputy Chief Steve Williams.
After approximately 3 hours and extensive overhaul, the fire was deemed under control and the scene was turned over to the State Fire Marshal’s office to investigate the cause and origin. Additional mutual aid was provided by Redding, West Redding, Hawleyville, Dodgingtown, Brookfield, Wooster Hose Company, and a crew from New Milford providing station coverage at the Stony Hill firehouse. Additionaly, with the assistance of the Fairfield County Fire Coordinator, relief crews from Shelton (White Hills Ladder 51), Monroe (Stevenson Engine 302), and Trumbull (Long Hill Squad 9).
The rescued tenant would be transported to the Bridgeport Hospital Burn Center with severe burns. One firefighter would be treated for a hand laceration, while another would be held for observation.
UPDATE July 14, 2017, 11:15PM:
Building are all boarded up today, July 14th, on Greenwood Avenue where the fire occurred early on July 13th. Sidewalk has been cleared of debris and roads are open.