|By JILL BODACH The Hour Staff Writer
NORWALK — Jeff Koehler was in his second-floor apartment at 23 East Ave. Friday afternoon when he heard the distinctive beep-beep-beep of his downstairs neighbor's smoke detector.
"I opened the door and went down to the first floor and saw smoke billowing out from under the door of their apartment," Koehler said.
Koehler called 911 and then banged on the door to the apartment to see if anyone was inside. When he didn't receive an answer, he went outside through the rear entrance to wait for firefighters to arrive.
Firefighters from three of the city's five fire stations responded to the blaze.
"When we got here, the first-floor bedroom was on fire," said Deputy Fire Chief Stephen Shay. "It took us about 20 minutes to get it under control."
Shay said the apartment had to be "gutted."
A cause of the fire has not been determined, but firefighters dragged a charred mattress from the house. The mattress was burnt down to its wire frame.
"The point of origin was the bed, but we aren't sure yet what ignited it," Fire Marshal Glenn Iannaccone said.
The owners of the apartment are in Haiti for the funeral of a relative and have not yet been notified of the fire, Iannaccone said.
There was only smoke damage to the second floor so Koehler and his roommate were allowed to return to their apartment.
"I'm just glad I was home," Koehler said. "Usually, I'm not home at this time of day."