New London - City fire personnel were forced to tackle a structure fire late Tuesday from the exterior of a yellow, multistory house on lower Truman Street because the building was engulfed in flames too quickly to allow firefighters inside.
Just before midnight, flames burst through each of the structure's front windows as thick smoke billowed from the roofline and traveled down the road toward Blackhall Street. By 12:50 a.m. Wednesday, fire personnel were reporting that the front of the house had partially collapsed.
City police blocked access to a stretch of Truman Street from behind Campo's Furniture near the police substation to Blackhall Street. At one point, firefighters had a difficult time accessing water from a nearby hydrant and had to extend a line to another location.
David Daniels and Chad Nedley of Middletown said they were driving down Truman Street in Daniels' van when they noticed smoke coming from the building. Nedley, owner of a North Branford-based repossession company and a former volunteer firefighter, said he stopped his van, jumped out and ran to the rear of the house to break a couple windows and see if anyone was inside. It was not known at press time if the house was occupied.
Nedley said in addition to the smoke, he quickly saw that electrical wires attached to the house were sparking.
Then they came crashing down. New London fire was here right after that,? Nedley said.
CL&P personnel were called to the scene to address the downed wires. A fire marshal and inspector were also called in at 12:40 a.m.
With the dropping temperatures and already slick road surface, public works employees were called to the area early Wednesday to put sand on the rapidly freezing streets to make it safe for emergency personnel.
Neither the address of the house or its owner nor the cause of the fire were known early Wednesday.
In addition to city fire, the Lawrence & Memorial paramedics responded to the scene.