Electric blanket fire displaces four families in Stamford
STAMFORD — It was a regular late Sunday afternoon for Eric Bredow, that is until smoke started filling up his condominium at Woodside Green.
“Around six O’clock I’m sitting on the couch in the living room,” said Bredow, who was standing outside the Ridgeway apartment complex Monday morning holding a white plastic bag filled with clothing. “All the black soot and smoke started coming right through my vents and through my floorboards. Within like 30 seconds, my entire unit was filled with black smoke. And it was a heavy smoke where it would just sit on the floor and then it started getting into everything, my closets and kitchen.”
Bredow, 33, a banker who works in the Royal Bank of Scotland building downtown, grabbed what he could and with his dog left his first floor unit at 136 Woodside Green, thinking that his condo was on fire.
But fire marshals conducting the investigation determined that the fire in the complex next to Fifth and Summer streets began in the basement unit of the complex directly below where Bredow lives.
Stamford’s Chief Fire Marshall Charles Spaulding said investigators believe they found the culprit: a plugged-in electric blanket that was folded and laying on a three-cushion couch in the living room of the basement apartment.
Spaulding said the control for the electric blanket was so damaged it could not be determined whether or not the blanket was switched on, but that it “most likely” was on when the fire began. The only other possible cause for the fire would be a short circuit in the blanket’s cord, which was was underneath one of the couch legs.
Spaulding said the basement apartment, occupied by a couple and their 15-year-old grandson, and Bredow’s condo unit have been declared uninhabitable. No one was home in the basement unit when the fire began, Spaulding said. No injuries were reported in the blaze.
The two upper units were damaged only by smoke and soot. Firefighters had to tear up the floorboards in Bredow’s living room and open up some walls to ensure the fire was out.
The American Red Cross is lending assistance to four families, including seven adults and one child, who have been temporarily displaced by the fire. Bredow said he received a $350 debit card from Red Cross. He said he was going to rent another apartment with the proceeds of an insurance policy until his unit is repaired.
“Everything today is seeing what I can salvage, so today I’m going to the laundromat,” Bredow said.
Kat Russell contributed reporting.