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Early Morning Fire Engulfs Historic West Hartford Home [Updated]

Fire engulfs a 19th century home at 711 Prospect Ave. in West Hartford early Wednesday morning. Photo credit: Jay Guber (courtesy photo)

A Prospect Avenue home was significantly damaged by fire Wednesday morning. [Updated]

About 90 minutes after the fire was reported, flames were still visible from the roof, viewed from the rear of the 711 Prospect Ave. home. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Ronni Newton

A large single-family home on Prospect Avenue in West Hartford was significantly damaged after a fire broke out early Wednesday morning.

The 5,095 square foot home, located at 711 Prospect Ave., was built in 1895, according to town records. It includes nine bedrooms.

The property is adjacent to Bristow Middle School.

A neighbor said the home, which was sold in July 2020, was undergoing renovation and was not occupied when the fire began.

All on-duty West Hartford Fire Department units responded, along with other emergency personnel. There were no injuries reported.

A nearby resident told We-Ha.com she was taking a walk with her husband when she spotted the flames and called 911.

“I heard the fire alarm and looked over and saw flames in the windows by the time the fire department and police arrived the windows had blown out,” she said.

The 911 call was received at 6:26 a.m., West Hartford Fire Chief Greg Priest said.

West Hartford Fire Department on the scene of a large fire at 711 Prospect Ave. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

“The first medic unit arrived at 6:28,” he said. “We had the first truck on scene at 6:29. They started an interior attack, they made a good push on it for a while with heavy fire conditions but they developed some structural instability inside.”

Flames were visible from the second floor when crews arrived, Priest said.

Crews worked from the interior for about 45 minutes, in heavy fire conditions, before determining that portions of the home were structurally unstable, either due to the fire or renovation work that had been underway.

Priest said the situation became too hazardous to continue firefighting operations from inside the structure, so they transitioned back to a defensive attack from the exterior.

West Hartford Fire Department on the scene of a large fire at 711 Prospect Ave. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Initial information had indicated that the house was unoccupied and that the people were not home. Firefighters confirmed through an interior search, Priest said.

Ninety minutes after the blaze was reported, flames continued to spark up from the roof and significant smoke filled the air.

They are knocking it down significantly with elevated streams, but we will be here for a while,” Priest said.

In an update Wednesday morning, Priest said the fire was placed under control at 9:06 a.m.

He said the department was able to contact the property owners, who confirmed the home was unoccupied.

Priest said that all West Hartford Fire Department companies responded to the scene, and several off-duty firefighters were called in to cover the town. The Hartford, New Britain, and UConn fire departments also provided coverage for the town while West Hartford units were committed to this fire.

American Medical Response, numerous members of the West Hartford Police Department, the Metropolitan District Commission, Eversource, and Connecticut Natural Gas crews were also on scene.

The Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating, but no cause had been determined.

“These are beautiful, historic homes …” Priest said. The damage was extensive, and Priest called the damage due to fire, smoke, and water “catastrophic.”

“West Hartford Fire has had several serious fire incidents recently requiring all of our on-duty fire units. During these periods of time, we have called upon our neighboring departments to assist us in maintaining a high level of fire and emergency medical services to our residents who are not affected by the fire. We greatly value and appreciate the assistance of our fire service mutual aid partners as well as the assistance of the West Hartford Police and AMR,” Priest said in an email later Wednesday morning.

Check back with We-Ha.com for updates to this story.

West Hartford Fire Department crews attack the remaining blaze at 711 Prospect Ave. from the air. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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Smoke fills the air as West Hartford Fire Department crews battle a large fire at 711 Prospect Ave. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

West Hartford Fire Department on the scene of a large fire at 711 Prospect Ave. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

West Hartford Fire Department on the scene of a large fire at 711 Prospect Ave. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

West Hartford Fire Department on the scene of a large fire at 711 Prospect Ave. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Fire visible at 711 Prospect Ave. Courtesy photo

West Hartford Fire Department on the scene of a large fire at 711 Prospect Ave. Courtesy photo

West Hartford Fire Department on the scene of a large fire at 711 Prospect Ave. Courtesy photo

West Hartford Fire Department on the scene of a large fire at 711 Prospect Ave. Courtesy photo

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