MERIDEN — The fire marshal is investigating after an early morning fire Wednesday on Miller Street displaced three families, including children.
About six adults and seven children were living in the multi-family house at 144 Miller St., said Fire Marshal Steve Trella. All got out safely before firefighters arrived shortly after 5 a.m.
“My husband just left for work and I heard cracking noises,” said Priscilla Mateo, a second floor resident. “I thought it was an animal. I opened my eyes and saw orange, then saw a fire on the side of the house. I didn’t think it was our house at first.”
Mateo said she got her two daughters, a one-year-old and 15-year-old, out along with her older daughter’s friend that was sleeping over. Mateo heard a smoke detector on the third floor and saw all the other residents coming out of the house. She and another resident called 911.
Sabrina Smalls-Hill and her husband Donnell Hill live on the third floor with their five children whose ages range from six months to 14 years old. Smalls-Hill said she also woke up to an orange light and at first thought it was a dream. She and her husband heard the smoke alarm going off and grabbed their children and got out, banging on other doors on the way out.
“We’re just grateful to be here,” Hill said, thanking the Meriden fire department and neighbors for support.
Mateo said neighbors checked on them while they were waiting to hear if they could go back into the house to get belongings. The neighbors, library employees and members of the Meriden Health Department gave them water, access to bathrooms and supplies for their children.
Mateo said she was shaking and crying as she watched the fire from the sidewalk.
“I guess I was in shock,” she said.
Isabella Ogando, Mateo’s daughter, said she woke up and saw a red light before her mother came in, grabbed everyone and got out of the house.
When firefighters arrived, the front porch was on fire and there an exposure fire on the side of the house next door, 154 Miller St. Trella said the fire started in the front of 144 Miller St., but the exact point of origin hadn’t been determined.
Trella said the utilities have been cut to 144 and 154 Miller St. The residents of 154 Miller St. will have to have an electrician inspect the house to make sure wiring wasn’ damaged before Eversource can turn power back on. There is no structural damage to 154 Miller St., Trella said.
The Red Cross is helping the residents of 144 Miller St. with temporary housing.