More than a dozen people are being helped by the American Red Cross after a large fire ripped through an apartment building in the Taftville section of Norwich.
The fire broke out in the building on Norwich Avenue around midnight Thursday and kept firefighters busy for several hours.
All of the people inside the six-unit apartment building were able to get out of the building safely.
Officials said one firefighter was injured fighting the fire. That firefighter was taken to an area hospital with a sprained back.
"We had to kick the door in to let everybody else know that there was a fire upstairs," said resident Jesse McClain. "After we got the kids out, the family out, as many animals as we could, we ran upstairs starting a chain with buckets of water just throwing it on the fire."
McClain says he was walking back from the convenience store when he looked up and spotted the orange glow up in the third story window. He and another neighbor jumped into action.
"There's a fire, I need to get everyone out because I didn't know how bad it was," said McClain, whose wife and two kids were asleep inside the building. "And it was pretty big."
Neighbor Tim Burgess heard the screams next door and he ran over to help.
"When I got to the doorway, to the bedroom, it was fully involved," Burgess said.
Burgess is a volunteer firefighter with another department and his gear was just out in the truck.
"Never know when you're going to need it," he said.
On Thursday night, Burgess needed his gear and after putting it on, he got in front of the water brigade.
"Me and Jesse just started dumping buckets of water on it," Burgess said. "I was near the fire because I had my gear on and he was feeding me buckets of water."
"Every time you tossed a bucket of water it just got bigger and bigger," McClain said.
Flames were shooting from the third floor to the attic and up through the roof when firefighters arrived.
Officials said 18 people including three children were displaced from the six apartments in the building. One cat did not make it out alive.
The Red Cross is assisting some of the displaced with finding a temporary place to stay.
McClain said families lost a lot of property.
"My family just moved up from New Mexico. We've been staying here for a month and we just have what's on our back now," McClain said. "But material objects are replaceable, human lives are not."
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but firefighters told Eyewitness News preliminarily it does appear to be electrical in nature.
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