Community chips in after devastating condo fire in Bridgeport

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BRIDGEPORT – A day after a Bridgeport condominium complex was demolished by a fire, the approximately 120 residents' lives are already being rebuilt.

Firefighters remained on scene Friday at the 36 unit building, at 215 Charles St, in case any hot spots flared up.

A car, parked in the complex’s underground garage, somehow ignited before 6 a.m. Thursday. The fire quickly spread to the main wooden structure, which rapidly became engulfed.

“We have 50 so far currently living in a hotel. They will be there for four days,” said Jeanette Herron, a city councilwoman, who is also a member of the Bridgeport Emergency Response Team.

After the back side of the building started to collapse yesterday, half of it was demolished last night. Since yesterday, the New Colony Diner, right next-door, has been inundated with donations for the residents.

“I brought in some toys,” said Beth Ann Weiss of Bridgeport as she unloaded her car Friday morning. “I have some dolls. I have some men's clothes, women's clothes, some shoes, some pillows, some blankets.”

There’s one mission for the owner of the diner.

“We gotta fill it up,” said Leo Koutikas, whose late father opened the diner in 1976.

Koutikas says he has a special connection to the burned out building.

“I have owned a lot of units in this building for the last 10 to 15 years," he said.  "I just recently had sold them.”

Two of the displaced residents are current diner employees, including a woman with two children, according to Koutikas.

“She lost her car. She lost all her kids’ toys from Christmas," he said. "One of their birthdays was next week. So, everything is gone.”

Mayor Joe Ganim's office and the city's emergency operations center also accepting donations.

If you get up close to the part of the building that remains standing, you can hear a chirping sound, which emergency responders is a good thing.

“The smoke detectors, some of them are still going off,” said Assistant Bridgeport Fire Chief, Christopher Martin . “The fire alarm system did go off and, considering the time of the day, when this fire started, it probably saved the lives of everybody in the building.”

The rest of the building will likely be demolished next week.