Fire above Chinese restaurant displaces Fairfield family

FAIRFIELD -- A fire that started on a back porch of a second-story apartment Sunday evening was quickly contained by firefighters and only caused minimal damage to the building.

The second-story apartment was uninhabitable by the time the fire was put out. There was minor smoke damage to a Chinese restaurant and barbershop on the first floor of the building at 131 Tunxis Hill Road in Fairfield. No one in the building 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 could most likely reopen the same night, Assistant Fire Chief George Gomola said.

"An aggressive fire attack by our first in crews stopped the fire in its tracks and kept the two occupancies below in business," said Chief Richard Felner who arrived on scene shortly afterwards.

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 still burning cigarette. She has a Christmas tree stand on the porch to serve as an ash tray and said she guessed her daughters' father didn't extinguish his cigarette completely when he put it in there. She had some towels drying on the railing near the ash tray, and it is possible, they ignited and spread the fire, she said.

"People need to be careful with the disposal of smoking materials," Fire Marshal Bill Kessler said.

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

Fairfield Fire Department Engines 1, 2, 3 and 5, Ladders 1 and 2, and Cars 1, 3 and 4 responded to the scene.

Mutual aid from Westport and Bridgeport was brough in to cover Fairfield Fire Stations 1 and 2.