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New Haven fire heavily damages popular restaurant, adjacent apartment building

NEW HAVEN --  A two alarm fire in New Haven Friday afternoon gutted a building, whose tenants include the popular Trinity Bar & Restaurant.

The smoke on Orange Street was prominent for over 30 minutes. The fire in the three-story commercial/residential structure took 45 minutes to bring under control.

"At 1:54 this afternoon, we received multiple calls of heavy smoke and fire coming out of the Trinity restaurant," said Chief John Alston, of the New Haven Fire Department.

New Haven Fire Marshal Robert Doyle later confirmed that the fire started in the second floor apartment next door to the restaurant. One man who lived in the apartment is in critical condition. One individual was transported for smoke inhalation. Another refused treatment at the scene.

One of the Owners of the Trinity, Eddie Higgins, said he was at the bank this afternoon when he received a call about the fire. He said after a bit of a tough summer for the business, the establishment had parties booked and were looking to hire more people. Now, the Trinity has 22 employees looking for work.

One of the restaurant employees said there were several tables full of customers when the smoke alarm started blaring.

"It spread through the second floor and third-floor," said Alston "That's where was the heaviest amount of smoke and flames were coming from."

Fortunately, he said, the fire occurred in an old-school brick-and-mortar building.

"These are the types of fires that, if you can get in there quick, you can contain them. We checked the adjacent building. There was only one attached. And there was no extension into that building."

The owner of the Vietnamese restaurant, two doors down from the fire, was among the many on-lookers on Orange Street.

"It started out I guess with a lot of smoke, so, my staff and I ran out and we are just seeing a lot of people running out screaming," said Duc Nguyen, the owner of Duc's Place.

Meanwhile, another man, who kept checking his phone, was concerned that some of his friends might have lunched at favorite Orange Street restaurant

"They usually go over to the Trinity," said Chris Larose, of New haven. "So, I mean, that's why I was a little sad to hear that it was there."

Assistant Fire Chief, Mark Vendetto, said it's likely to be early next week before an official cause of the fire is determined.