Stamford, CT – A devastating fire broke out on April 30, 1978, at the Fodi Furniture Store, located at 101 Main Street, rapidly spreading to the adjacent apartment building at 93 Main Street. The fierce blaze left more than 100 residents homeless, in what was deemed one of Stamford’s worst fire disasters to date.
The conflagration required an unprecedented response from the city’s fire department, as over 150 firefighters from eight different fire stations rushed to the scene. Battling the relentless flames, the courageous responders worked tirelessly for over eight hours to control the inferno. Despite their valiant efforts, both the furniture store and the apartment building were tragically destroyed.
Mayor Louis Clapes, visibly shaken by the scale of the disaster, remarked, “We think this may be the worst fire Stamford has seen to date.” The immense blaze attracted throngs of onlookers, who watched in horror as mattresses and furniture were engulfed in flames, littering the streets in the aftermath.
As the night progressed, the intensity of the fire took its toll on the structure, causing the walls of the furniture store to buckle under the pressure of the hose streams used by firefighters to combat the blaze. Miraculously, nearby wood-frame houses on Relay Place were spared, thanks to the vigilant efforts of the firefighting teams.
The cooperative response to the disaster involved firefighters not only from the Stamford Fire Department but also from the Glenbrook, Belltown and Turn of River Fire Departments. The combined efforts of these brave individuals helped contain the fire and prevent further damage to nearby properties.
However, amidst the chaos and devastation, reports emerged of looters seizing the opportunity to remove furniture from the rear of the burning building. Despite this unfortunate development, businesses across the street remained unharmed, though the smell of smoke lingered in the air for days.
Fire Marshall Robert Hennessy conducted an investigation and determined that the fire originated behind the Las Amricas Grocery Store, caused by a discarded cigarette. The carelessness of this small act ignited an uncontrollable blaze, resulting in property damage estimated to exceed one million dollars.
In the aftermath, the Drug Liberation house, located nearby, was fortunate to suffer only smoke damage and was back in operation just two days later.
The brave firefighters continued their vigilance, remaining on the scene for more than 24 hours, tirelessly pouring water on hot spots to prevent any reignition of the fire.
The Fodi Furniture Store and the adjacent apartment building may have been reduced to ashes, but the resilience of the Stamford community and the heroic efforts of its firefighters stand as a testament to the strength and solidarity in the face of tragedy. The road to recovery for those affected by the fire would be arduous, but the city’s unwavering support would undoubtedly help them rebuild their lives, brick by brick.