A two-alarm fire did heavy damage to a Newark apartment complex on Tuesday evening.

The fire broke out around 5:45 p.m. in the upper part of Building 20 of the Fairfield Apartments on Country Club Drive, behind Fairfield Shopping Center. Firefighters arrived to find flames and smoke coming from the roof of the three-story, 12-unit building.

A total of 66 firefighters and 10 paramedics and EMTs from Aetna Hose, Hook and Ladder Company and surrounding fire companies from Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania brought the blaze under control within an hour, according to John H. Farrell IV, a spokesman for Aetna.

No one was injured, but one woman who relies on oxygen was treated in an ambulance. Farrell said she was in a neighboring building that lost power and was administered oxygen by EMTs until the Red Cross could arrive and assist her with temporary housing.

Two cats were rescued from the building, including one that was revived by a Christiana Fire Company firefighter, New Castle County paramedics and EMTs from the University of Delaware's ambulance service.

Bre Mariner, the Christiana firefighter, said she found the cat unresponsive in a third-floor bedroom.

"I started doing CPR on my way out, and it came back," Mariner said.

The cat was then administered oxygen using an oxygen mask designed for pets and then taken to an animal hospital, Farrell said.

Chief Deputy Fire Marshal Robert Fox ruled the fire accidental and said it started when a candle ignited combustibles in a third-floor apartment. Damage was estimated at $1 million. 

The apartment building did not have sprinklers, as it was built in 1962, decades before Newark passed a law mandating sprinklers in residential buildings.

"This fire today, with sprinklers, would have been held to one room and been a 30-minute fire," said Farrell, who spearheaded passing the sprinkler law when he was a city councilman in 2001.

Displaced residents were assisted by The Red Cross of Delmarva and the apartment complex management.

Councilman Jason Lawhorn, who represents Fairfield, was at the scene surveying the damage and noted that the apartment complex primarily houses adults, not students.

"I wanted to acknowledge the incredible bravery of the police, firefighters and other first responders who were or still are present tonight," Lawhorn said. "This was a significant fire that left an entire apartment building uninhabitable with virtually no injuries. The bravery of the men and women who ran into this building with flames shooting well above the roof is indescribable and deserving of all our gratitude. Please take a minute to thank them when you see them around town and when you get the envelope in your mail, take time to donate and support their mission to respond to emergencies like this one."

Load comments