NEW HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Crews were on the scene in New Hartford Wednesday morning to demolish a historic building on Bridge Street after a three-alarm fire sparked overnight Tuesday. The investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing, and a Burlington firefighter remains hospitalized.
Firefighters in New Hartford and from around the surrounding areas battled the fire. Colin McFadden, A 26-year-old firefighter/EMT from Burlington, experienced a medical emergency and was brought to John Dempsey Hospital. He remains in critical condition.
Officials said McFadden, a 6-year member of the Burlington Volunteer Fire Department, became suddenly ill at the fire. During his care and treatment, McFadden’s medical team discovered a previously undiagnosed medical condition that caused this sudden illness.
Norfolk Public Information Officer Jon Barbagallo said two firefighters were transported to local hospitals with minor injuries.
New Hartford officials announce plans to demolish remaining parts of the New Hartford House
“We have some concerns for some of our firefighters right now, a few sustained injuries fighting the fire. Prayers for them,” said New Hartford First Selectman Dan Jerram.
The Burlington Fire Department said the statewide blood supply is critical to McFadden’s continued care and recovery, and CT’s blood supply is seriously low. Due to everyone asking how they can help, the fire department is asking people to donate blood as soon as possible.
Earlier Tuesday, Barbagallo said the fire was on Bridge Street and more than 29 fire departments were on scene and on standby. New Hartford firefighters got the call at around 2:20 a.m.
A burned-out shell is the only thing that remains of the historic centerpiece, built in 1850.
WEB EXTRA: Drone footage of New Hartford House building fire
Fire officials believe there were 22 people in the building; 21 are accounted for and people told News 8 they saw the other person get escorted out by firefighters.
There is extensive damage. The entire backside of the building has collapsed. The building, known as the New Hartford House, had 14 apartments and six businesses. Before that, the building was a hotel. Officials announced that there are plans to demolish the rest of the building Wednesday.
Officials said Wednesday the entire building is contaminated with asbestos, and the rubble will be sent to Ohio. It will take about a week to remove all of the rubble from the scene. Once demolition is completed, all that will be left is a sloped hill.
“We want to make sure that people have a safe place to go, and we’re going to connect them with the local resources here in New Hartford and the northwest corner,” said Eric Oubre, American Red Cross Senior Director.
While the people who lived there lost everything, the loss of the building will be felt by everyone in town. This was the place to go for special events.
“Twenty-five years ago, I had dinner there with my wife before I asked her to marry me. There’s many stories like that. This has been the gathering point, the hub, the center of New Hartford for many, many years, and right now, we’re all devastated,” said First Selectman Jerram.
Glenn and Maja Corlett’s story began there. Glenn opened the Farm River Cafe in New Hartford in August 2019.
“In January 2020, my wife walked in with her two children and I knew pretty much right away she was going to be my wife,” Glenn said.
Forty-four days later they got married there.
“Our flowers were actually still hanging in the doorway… so, all the orchids and everything. It’s definitely very sad,” Maja said.
Firefighters are asking people to avoid the area. Route 44 through New Hartford center is closed to traffic, and detours may cause delays. The roadway is expected to reopen by Wednesday evening.
“We heard a big pow and that’s when the window must have exploded, and the flames and the backdraft came shooting in the window. We grabbed our son, and he grabbed the dog and we all grabbed each other and just ran out the house,” said Christine Civitillo.
The first selectman also says the New Hartford House was just purchased by a new owner about a month ago. Now, the selectman plans to work with the owner to figure out what the future holds for this important piece of property.
Anyone who saw or heard anything in the early morning hours is asked to call Connecticut State Police.
The Burlington Fire Department said any well wishes and words of encouragement may be sent to:
co/ Burlington Fire
P.O. Box 1285
Burlington, CT 060132
News 8 will update this story as more information comes in.