The American Red Cross is helping eight people – five adults and three children in three families – after a problem with the furnace in their multi-family home early Thursday morning on Naugatuck Avenue forced them to evacuate.

The Red Cross is providing help with emergency housing needs, as well as stuffed animal toys for the children. Red Cross volunteers Missy Lundeen and Ryan Lundeen responded to assist the families.

The Red Cross is also providing comfort kits containing personal care items such as toothbrushes, deodorant, shaving supplies and other items a resident might not have been able to gather in the rush to escape.

The Milford Fire Department got a call about 2 a.m. Thursday for an odor of smoke and instead they found elevated levels of carbon monoxide, which fire officials said was caused by a problem with the heating system. The tenants were told to leave and the fire department then contacted the Red Cross to help find alternative housing for them.

The owner of the building is addressing the issue with the heating system, said Fire Department Spokesman Greg Carman.