Neighbors filmed the flames tearing across condo units at 466 Danbury Rd. in New Milford around 10:30 a.m. this morning
Angelo Appi of North Haven had just dropped off donations down the street for Operation Homefront–which gives school supplies to children of military families– when he spotted smoke just off Route 7.
First he ran into the first floor unit, where an elderly woman was desperately and dangerously trying to save her dog.
Appi says, “There was a carpet area on fire traveling up curtains up the ceiling and fire was across the ceiling.”
Appi took over, urging the woman to go to the hospital after she inhaled so much smoke.
“I took my shirt off put it over my face went back in to try to get the dog I just couldn’t get back safely.”
Next he says he and another man began pounding on condo doors. Patricia Mendes was sleeping in the unit above where the fire started.
She says, "I heard a noise at the door and my dog started barking. I woke up and saw Angelo. He said it's a fire get out!"
She grabbed her purse and dog, and moments later her unit was up in flames.
"In seconds I saw my house going up blowing up," Mendes said.
Deputy Chief Todd Russell says the fire quickly moved from the first to the second floor and then spread across the common loft attic shared by these units. In all, eight apartments were destroyed, and 11 people were displaced.
Tonight Red Cross is assisting Mendes and others who lost everything. But Mendes says she's just grateful to have her life.
Standing outside her destroyed apartment in her pajamas, Mendes said through tears, "He saved my life. Thank you so much for saving my life."
Red Cross: www.Redcross.org
Operation Homefront: http://www.operationhomefront.net/custompage?Id=3260