Cat is Family's Smoke Detector as Fire Destroys Whitney Ave. Home
Chief V. Paul Leddy directs firefighters at one of two structure fires to hit Hamden on February 1, 1961. The officer (third from right) with the white helmet shield is Capt. Paul Rosadina, who would become a Dep. Chief (now B/C) in 1973. He retired in 1984. (Except where noted, all scans of glossy photos on this page were shot by I.A. Sneiderman and are from the HFRA Archives)
Fifty-two years ago this week, Hamden firefighters struggled with extremely cold temperatures to fight two structure fires at almost the same time. The first and more serious fire destroyed the 3070 Whitney Avenue home of a Mt. Carmel family. Fire Marshal Al Purce later determined that the cause was chimney sparks emanating from an unscreened fireplace.
The first home smoke detectors wouldn't arrive until the 1970s, so this family was fortunate to have a pet cat that woke them while they could still escape the flames. The fire was through the roof by the time the first apparatus arrived.
The second fire, at 218 Skiff Street, was reported by a watchman for the New Haven Water Company, which had a branch office on the south side of Skiff directly opposite #218. Engine 3 was returning from the first fire and arrived first, and was joined by Engines 1 and 2. Damage was limited to the roof (see artricle below).
From The New Haven Register, February 1, 1961 (News articles courtesy of Chan Brainard and Gil Spencer)
This firefighter appears to be Bill Davin, then of Vol. Co. 5. Bill joined the career deparetment in 1965 and served for 30 years.
New Haven Register - February 3, 1961 (Courtesy of Chan Brainard)
The house was razed and an office complex, 3074 Whitney Avenue, was built years later on the same spot.
The photo below, courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society, was taken at the turn of the last century. It shows the house that was destroyed on February 1, 1961. At some point, a wrap-around veranda was added.
c. 1900 - #3070 Whitney Avenue before it acquired a wrap-around veranda. The white house in the background is also long gone. Note the trolley tracks and the unpaved road. (Photo courtesy of the Hamden Historical Society)