Jun. 27—Ilias Bennani and his wife, Kacie, were able to grab their cat and escape their third-floor apartment as smoke filled the space during a three-alarm fire Sunday morning.
Reports of the fire at the 2.5-story multi-family home at 105 Prospect St. started coming in around 10:50 a.m., according to Fire Chief Andre Parent.
Firefighters got the stubborn blaze under control by 12:30 p.m., but remained at the scene longer. Union Street and other surrounding roads were closed during the blaze.
Everyone inside got out on their own, but firefighters did a sweep of the building to make sure. No injuries to either civilians or firefighters were reported during the fire.
"There was heavy fire on arrival at the rear of the building," Parent said. "A few minutes later a second alarm was called because of the heat and fire conditions."
Flames continued to shoot through the roof past noon.
The fire took place across the street from a fatal fire at 96 Prospect St. on April 19, in which a 65-year-old woman died.
Dozens gathered on the lawn of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Manchester and surrounding side streets to take in the scene even as temperatures were expected to rise into the 90s, which created a challenge for firefighters.
As fire spread to the front of the building, a third-alarm was called to help rotate crews because of the extreme heat. Crews took advantage of shade from nearby trees and drank plenty of water.
"We have them take their gear off and cool down," Parent said.
As firefighters worked, Kacie Nuernberg quietly sat on the side steps of the church with their cat, Stiles, in a pet crate. She said she woke up only a few minutes before being alerted to the fire by Bennani.
Bennani said he smelled what he thought was a neighborhood barbecue when he heard someone yelling the building was on fire.
"I am just happy that we are all alive," he said. The fire had started well before the smoke alarms started going off, he said.
"It went so quickly," he said of the fire spreading through the entire home.
His car, along with two others, were damaged in the blaze.
Ramond Lawson, who has lived in Myrtle Street for the past three years, saw the flames under one of the porches as he headed out to buy groceries.
"I ran around to the front and banged on the door and yelled, 'Fire, fire, fire, get out," he said.
Plumes of smoke could be seen down Union Street; at least three ladder trucks were extended over the home.
All off-duty firefighters were called to the scenes while crews from surrounding towns manned the stations, the chief said.
"We tried to fight it from the inside, but with the conditions we had to pull out and go on the defensive," Parent said.
According to city assessor records, the home with four units was built around 1910 and is assessed at $309,500. The Fire Department estimates $600,000 in damage.
The fire damaged two neighboring properties, according to a news release.
It is unknown how many people will be displaced because of the fire.
The cause of fire is under investigation, but believed to have started in the rear of the home, Parent said.