West Haven fire chief credits smoke detectors with saving three lives

WEST HAVEN --  A West Haven woman, who was nearly trapped in a house fire in West Haven, remains in intensive care today, as a result of smoke inhalation, according to her boyfriend. And investigators believe the fire might have been set.

West Haven Fire Chief Jim O'Brien said what enabled the three occupants of a two family home, at 339 Center Street to survive, is properly functioning smoke detectors.

"Due to that, they were able to get out to notify us and have a better result than what could've been had they not been working smoke detectors," said O'Brien.

The call came in to fire headquarters, which is just two blocks from this home, at about 3 a.m

"Two occupants were able to escape and informed them (firefighters) that there was a third-party in the building," O'Brien said.

The girlfriend, of one of the home's residents, could not get out of the home on her own due to recent ankle surgery.

"I tried to pull her as far as I could, but I couldn't breathe," said Tavon Williams, of his girlfriend. "And she pushed me and told me just go, go call people. Do what you got to do."

The front of the home was completely engulfed. So, firefighters rescued the woman by accessing the stairwell at the rear of the home. O'Brien believes the front stairwell, to the second floor, is where the fire started and, with no electrical outlets in that hallway, that seemed suspicious to police.

"The (state) fire marshal is doing some testing," said O'Brien.

"It was like losing everything," said Williams. "Just seeing everything going so fast. My head was moving so fast."