3 injured in West Haven apartment building fire

Firefighters respond to an apartment fire at 175 Canton St. in West Haven on Monday, Nov. 19.

Firefighters respond to an apartment fire at 175 Canton St. in West Haven on Monday, Nov. 19.

Two local residents and a firefighter were injured in a three-alarm fire in the VIP Apartments building on Canton Street Monday morning.

The fire, reported around 10:30 a.m., is in a corner apartment on the third floord of the four-story brown brick building at 175 Canton St.

The residents of the apartment where the fire originated were taken to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation, officials said. Ambulances on the scene were seen taking three stretchers inside the building.

Firefighters from Allingtown, West Shore and West Haven were all at the scene Monday, pumping water to the fire from down the block near the Orange town line. New Haven also sent firefighters to assist at the scene.

One firefighter was evaluated at the scene for potential injuries.

West Haven police were also on the scene to help evacuate the apartments. The Canton Street apartment building contains 52 units in total — 13 units per floor, officials said.

At 10:45 a.m., firefighters reported the bulk of the fire was knocked down. About five minutes later, firefighters found a person in a wheelchair inside an apartment, according to dispatch reports. Their condition is unknown at this time.

Firefighters were reporting heavy smoke inside the building. A hole was made into the roof of the building to ventilate the structure, which is standard procedure.

Broken windows could be seen around a corner unit toward the back of the complex, where the fire originated.

Abele Iremeka, who lives below affected apartment, she was at work in a nearby medical office Monday morning but her mother, Victoria, was at home sleeping when someone knocked on the door and said “You have to get out!” When her mother called her, she ran home across the street, Iremeka said, to find that her mother got out safely but was standing barefoot outside the building.

The two, who have lived there for eight years, say they are now worried about potential water and smoke damage in their apartment from the fire above them.

A woman who identified herself as Habiba M.J. said she lives on the fourth floor of the building, above and across the hall from the fire.

“I was in the bathroom, trying to get ready to go out,” she said. Then she heard commotion — sirens and foot steps running outside her door, which is unusual that time of morning, she said. When she looked out, she saw people running out of the building.

“I quickly just grabbed my blanket, but no shoes, and ran out of there,” she said.

As she saw the two residents of the affected unit being taken away on stretchers, she said it looked like they were going to be OK.

“We are just so happy that they were safe,” she said.

City of West Haven Fire Department/Allingtown Fire Chief Michael Esposito said the cause of the fire remains under investigation.