Late Friday morning, the  Waterbury Fire Department responded to a residential fire at 150 Waterville Street. 

At one point, the fire was so big, smoke could be seen for miles.

People who were in the building when the fire started, clung to their loved ones, because at one point, they thought they might die trying to escape.

“I did because it was moving so quickly. My main thing was to just hurry up and get out”, says Tamara Lanier-Hanna who escaped the fire.

Fortunately, she and everyone else did get out safely. The house contained several apartments.

We’re told at least 12 people lived here. This man was able to rescue a neighbor.

“She’s in a wheelchair she has ms. I helped her out. I got her out of the apartment then she asked me to go look for her cat. I tried but it was just too engulfed and i couldn’t go any further”, said Andrew Witham. 

Waterbury Fire Chief David Martin tells News 8 the fire started on the first floor.

“(We) got a call for a problem with a heater.”

The flames shot all the way up to the third floor and through the roof.

Chief Martin says having working smoke detectors saved lives here.

“We preach that all the time, can’t stress it enough.”

“I heard the alarms go off and I heard someone yelling get out the house there’s a real fire”, Lannier-Hanna added.

This was quite a battle for firefighters, battling not only  the flames, but the cold weather, as well.

“Icing conditions from all the water we’ve used — slip and fall becomes a concern and certainly on the body itself being in the teens and the 20s and wet isn’t a good combination.”

The residents who are now out in the cold wonder what’s next.

“Everything that I own is gone.”

The Red Cross is helping them — and on this weekend right after Thanksgiving, some of them have family they can turn to. They’re just trying to stay positive.

“I’m grateful that no one got hurt and we were at least all able to get out safely.”