Man hailed as hero after house fire

A city man was hailed as a hero Friday afternoon for helping to get several people out of a smoky East Side home after a small fire broke out near the boiler.

As the four-family home filled with smoke around 4:30 p.m. Friday, Carlos Matos alerted the residents of 551 Park Street, helping to get children and pets escape without injury.

“I knocked on all of the doors and said, ‘Hey! Hey! There’s a fire!’ And everybody ran, ” Matos said.

Haydee Burgos, who was also inside, said she called the fire department, which arrived a few minutes later.

Twelve-year-old Elvis Santiago said he was on a laptop inside the home when he saw smoke.

“I called my little sister, a three-year-old, and then I grabbed her and we ran out,” he said.

Bridgeport Assistant Fire Chief Manuel Firpi said an improperly licensed mechanic working on the boiler had left oily rags in front of the furnace, which caught fire after the house’s occupants turned on the heat to warm up during a chilly fall afternoon.

Firefighters extinguished the fire quickly and vented the smoke from the home. Fire Inspector Henry Polite was also called to the scene.

Firpi said the house sustained minor damage but would be habitable. It was not immediately clear whether the families inside would have heat Friday night. Nighttime lows were forecast to drop into the 30s this weekend.

Traffic on Park Street was blocked between Putnam and Pearl streets for a short time Friday as fire crews worked the scene.

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Wes Duplantier