Early-morning blaze under investigation; victim transferred to Bridgeport Hospital
Norwich — Several Norwich police officers were credited Friday with a potentially life-saving effort to pull an injured man from his burning home.
The fire at the three-unit home at 206 Dudley St. was reported at 4:06 a.m. Police officers were among the first to arrive, acting on cries for help from the family of a man still trapped inside.
Chris Wydra, injured in the fire, was listed in critical condition at Bridgeport Hospital, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
The house was occupied by owner Patty Jean Wydra, her two sons and young granddaughter, East Great Plain Assistant Chief Joe Winski said. Winski, who is related to the occupants, said it was the young girl who first heard noise coming from upstairs and woke her grandmother. Patty Jean Wydra discovered smoke upstairs coming from her son’s bedroom.
Patty Jean Wydra, using a baseball bat at one point, joined one of her sons in several attempts to break down the bedroom door as smoke started to fill the second floor, Winski said. They were eventually able to break in the door but were overcome and driven back by the intense heat and thick smoke, he said.
Norwich Police Sgt. Patrick Mickens said police Officers Scott Meikle and Cornelius Carmody, responding to a 911 call for a structure fire with entrapment, entered the home and were able to find Chris Wydra, who was on his hands and knees on the second floor. They dragged him to safety outside.
“I wouldn’t expect anything less from these guys,” Norwich Police Sgt. Peter Camp said.
Chris Wydra, who is in his early 30s, was initially taken to The William W. Backus Hospital and later transferred to the Connecticut Burn Unit of Bridgeport Hospital.
Patty Jean Wydra was admitted to Backus.
East Great Plain Volunteer Fire Department Acting Chief Keith Milton said firefighters arrived to find flames shooting from a second-floor window. They entered the house and initially extinguished the fire but found that it had spread to the walls and attic.
Balloon construction — multifloor walls without fire stops — in the 100-year-old farmhouse allowed the fire to spread quickly, Milton said. The fact that the home is now divided into several apartments further complicated firefighting efforts, he said.
Milton said the fire was contained to the upstairs and that “crews did an outstanding job with what they had to deal with.”
East Great Plain was joined at the scene by firefighters from the city, Yantic and Laurel Hill fire departments along with the Mohegan Tribal Fire Department’s FAST team.
The local and state fire marshal’s offices are investigating the cause and origin of the fire and the local branch of the American Red Cross is providing help with emergency food and clothing needs.