Fire forces residents from Tunxis Hill apartment

A fire that ignited on the back porch of a second-story apartment over a Tunxis Hill restaurant Sunday evening was quickly extinguished by Fairfield firefighters, but the residential unit was left uninhabitable.

Minor smoke damage resulted to Bejing Chinese restaurant and a barbershop on the first floor of the building at 131 Tunxis Hill Road.

No one was hurt in the fire and two pet cats that lived upstairs were also rescued.

"I was inside taking an order when I heard screaming upstairs," said Nina Chan, whose family has owned Beijing restaurant for 14 years.

The restaurant was expected to reopen quickly, Assistant Fire Chief George Gomola said.

Alicia Buechner, 45, who lived in the upstairs apartment with her two daughters, said she was taking out the trash and when she got back, saw the back porch was on fire. She said she thinks the fire may have been started by a smoldering cigarette. She has a Christmas tree stand on the porch to use as an ash tray and thought that her daughters' father may not have extinguished a cigarette completely when he snuffed it out there. Beuchner had towels drying on the railing near the ash tray and they may have ignited, she said, causing the fire to spread.

The Red Cross was on the scene to help the family find alternate shelter for the night.