Blaze destroys home

Gail Leto is grateful for not being able to sleep Sunday night. She tossed and turned despite being "dead tired." That enabled here to call 9-1-1 about the fire at the 131 E. Main St. home of Doug Berry. The owner of Berry's Restaurant was not home at the time of the fire, called in about midnight.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010

Gail Leto is grateful for not being able to sleep Sunday night.

She tossed and turned despite being "dead tired." That enabled here to call 9-1-1 about the fire at the 131 E. Main St. home of Doug Berry. The owner of Berry's Restaurant was not home at the time of the fire, called in about midnight.

"It was a blaze. I could feel the heat from the fire inside up there," Leto recalled, referring to her upstairs bedroom. "After the oxygen got it, it took off."

By the time Norwalk firefighters arrived, there was fire blowing out of the left side of Berry's home, on the side closest to Leto's residence, Chief Doug Coletta said.

"It's a beautiful old home," Coletta said. "Unfortunately, the place was pretty much gutted."

Berry's house, built in 1878, is classified as a historical home. He has lived there between 15 and 20 years.

Rich Mannino, Berry's neighbor on the east side at 135 E. Main St., heard sirens about 11:45 p.m. and a loud noise he associated with firefighters breaking down the front door.

"The fire was flowing out of the back," he said, as well as the front porch.

Mannino has lived beside Berry, whom he described as a "good neighbor," for the last 13 years. He said Berry was meticulous at working on his house and keeping "everything perfect" in his yard.

"This was his pride and joy," Mannino added.

Coletta said the fire started on the west side living room, but the cause is unknown and under investigation. He called in the state fire marshal's office because the home is considered a "large dollar loss."

A damage estimate was not available at press time.

Firefighters spent the first few minutes after their arrival determining nobody was inside.

"We got confirmation there was nobody home. The guys got right to work on the fire," said Coletta.

Norwalk did not request assistance from other area departments.

Leto was evacuated her home for about 1 1/2 hours.

"I was real impressed (with) how quick they got the fire out. It was impressive. They did a good job," she said. "After the window (on the west side) broke out, it just took off."

Coletta estimated that firefighters had the blaze under control in about an hour.

Leto said she heard laughter outside Berry's home before the fire started.

Norwalk Police Chief Kevin Cashen said he hadn't spoken to any officers who responded to the scene this morning, but confirmed that firefighters requested a detective.

Detective Dave McDonough was at the scene with a crime kit this morning. A fire marshal investigator was already there.

A couple hours after firefighters had the initial fire under control, they returned to extinguish a "rekindle" that went above the kitchen, extending into the attic, Coletta said. He explained that fires can spread quickly in older homes into voids between joists.

Comments

Michele Kennedy...

I hate to see that beautiful home destroyed.

jb (Anonymous)

I can remember when that home was on TV many many years ago when Norma Hicks lived their. She was a feature for a program out of Cleveland because she had a Christmas Tree in every room of the home. She even provided tours to the community at Christmas Time one year. I still refer to it as the Christmas Tree House. I believe she had the trees up almost all year if I remember correct. I wonder if she still has trees in her current home???

JB (Anonymous)

I can remember when that home was on TV many many years ago when Norma Hicks lived their. She was a feature for a program out of Cleveland because she had a Christmas Tree in every room of the home. She even provided tours to the community at Christmas Time one year. I still refer to it as the Christmas Tree House. I believe she had the trees up almost all year if I remember correct. I wonder if she still has trees in her current home???

JW (Anonymous)

It's a shame that this has happened. It must be hard for him. It could be possible to remodel the inside of the home. I know a great construction company. MTB Construction. The owner is a great guy who knows his stuff. All his work his awesome. Check him out!

bla cool (Anonymous)

This is a horrible thing and i feel really bad. That house was very nice and it's a shame it was destroyed.

Beth (Anonymous)

Don't destroy it! That house is so awesome! It's one of my favorites. I think it can be fixed up. It's brick, so maybe there's hope? I hope he can at least try. We have to try to preserve our town's history, and I'm sure that house is a part of it.

Gotta luv me (A...

My heart goes out to Mr. Berry.

I remember being a little girl and my brother, sister, and I always called that house "The Monster House". For no reason other than what the house looked like on the outside. It always looked kinda scary at night to a little girl. It brought tears to my eyes today when I found out it was gone. I'm thankful that noone was physicaly hurt.

destroy (Anonymous)

the best thing mr berry could do now is destroy the house

Maddy Mud (Anon...

That is absolutely heartbreaking, that home is one of my favorites in town. Maybe there's an old column from Seems Like Old Times about the history of the house?