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East Hartford family homeless after devastating holiday season house fire

EAST HARTFORD — A holiday season tragedy in East Hartford. A family is without a place to call home after a devastating fire broke out. “They were screaming for...

EAST HARTFORD — A holiday season tragedy in East Hartford. A family is without a place to call home after a devastating fire broke out.

“They were screaming for help,” said neighbor Marie Figueiredo said,

Neighbor Veronica Jones saw the mother run out of the burning home. “I just yelled out to her to see if she was okay. She said she was okay and then all of a sudden she just collapsed.”

The family was made homeless by fire.

“I’m very sorry for these people,” said neighbor Eleni Pitsouli.

“They just watched the house burn down,” added Figueiredo.

Many neighbors gathered on Woodmont Drive to watch the chaotic scene in disbelief. “It’s so sad. It happens directly after Christmas,” remarked Pitsouli.

The intense flames were called in around 10:30 a.m.

They eventually gave way to a shroud of smoke that enveloped the home and sent a large ominous plume into the sky.

“There was just so much smoke. It was really scary. Then we heard explosions,” said Jones.

The explosion was likely from a propane tank in the garage.

“It’s very premature whether that had anything to do with the origin or cause of the fire,” said East Hartford Fire Chief John Oates.

Five people were inside when the fire started in the garage. It quickly spread to the living area above.

“For it to get that much of a head start was a little more than we would normally expect,” said Chief Oates.

Luckily, everyone inside made it out safe.

“At least the good thing is nothing happened to them physically,” said Pitsouli.

The family home is now mostly a charred shell. But possessions are mostly replaceable.

“Almost,” remarked Pitsouli. “Except the memories and pictures or whatever they have.”

Fire crews worked quickly to spread lines and shut of utilities. One firefighter was hurt. He was loaded onto a stretcher and rushed to the hospital.

“It was difficulty breathing,” said Oates. He is expected to be okay.

The damage was significant. The structural integrity of the home was compromised. “We’re going to have to construct something to shore that corner of building up so it doesn’t fall over,” said Oates.

Neighbors say in the days to come, they’ll rally to support each other.

“They are very emotional right now as expected but they are going to do okay,” said Figueiredo.

The family is being helped by the Red Cross and East Hartford’s victim services team. Fire crews were on scene until about 2:30 p.m. working to put out flare ups and hot spots.

Back at fire headquarters, Manchester and Hartford fire crews made sure the city was covered in case of another emergency. It will be up to the local fire Marshall to determine the exact cause.