NAUGATUCK – Professional woodworker Roy Yoder was working in his garage at 8 Cotton Hollow Road Friday when he heard “crackling” sounds.
Yoder, 59, who has Parkinson’s disease and is confined to a wheelchair, turned around and saw a trash bin on fire.
“I tried to put it out with water and a broom, but it was going too fast so I called 911 and got the hell out,” he said. “I’m just glad nobody was injured.”
Ten Naugatuck firefighters responded just after the 3:20 p.m. call. They attacked the flames, but the fire was propelled by a strong wind and several pieces of wood. Plus, the fire hydrants in the area didn’t have much water running to them because the house is on a small dead end road. The Connecticut Water Co. was called to supply more water to the hydrant and arrived within minutes.
Still, the garage roof ended up collapsing, and the walls were in danger of doing the same as of 6:15 p.m., Fire Chief Ken Hanks said.
He said the fire department was planning to bring in a pay loader to demolish the detached garage.
“We’re going to be here for much of the night,” he said.
The flames did not spread to nearby houses - including Yoder’s two-story duplex - which is what firefighters were trying to avoid. Firefighters also kept the flames from spreading to woods nearby.
Many passersby noticed plumes of black and grey smoke billowing high above nearby Route 8 near Exit 26, the Cross Street exit. Motorists were detoured around the scene.
Valuable Material Items Damaged
Inside the garage were several handcrafted wood items that Yoder planned to sell. Plus, he had tens of thousands of baseball cards, some dating back to the early 1950s. And, perhaps the most valuable item was a 1968 Camaro Big Block that was parked in the garage. Roy Yoder was still holding out hope Friday that his car would be salvageable. (Update: Firefighters say the Camaro was saved.)
First Day on the New Job
Friday marked the first shift in which newly appointed Captain Greg Flaherty was in charge. Flaherty, the brother of former Chief Kerry Flaherty, is no stranger to firefighting in Naugatuck, though. The 53-year-old Greg Flaherty has worked for the department for 17 years and was a lieutenant for the past eight.
Multiple Fires This Year
This is the third fire Yoder and his wife, Sharon, have experienced this year. In October, they had a small fire near their kitchen that was caused by a lamp, Sharon told Patch. And their other home in New York sustained damage in a chimney fire recently, she said.
“We are done with fires for this year,” she said, adding that she injured her hand putting out the small fire and that her husband hurt his leg while running to check on her, which is what landed him in the wheelchair.
On Friday, she was inside their home with her 18-year-old nephew, Jonathan. They both got out without being injured.
Waiting on Pets
The Yoders have a dog and two cats. The dog survived, Roy Yoder said, but he did not know what happened to the two cats, one of which is an indoor cat, the other stays outdoors most of the time.
Editor's Note: You can see a photo of some of Roy Yoder's impressive woodworking projects attached to this article.