At the same time, Jennifer and Chris Zingus, who live across the street, were leaving for work when they saw the smoke.
“My husband ran inside and called 911, then shot back out the door across the street,” Jennifer Zingus said.
Running toward the house, Chris Zingus saw that fire and smoke were coming from the rear of the house and that the Benoits were on the back deck.
“They were stuck on their deck. Tom yelled out the garage code and my husband opened the door. From there they could leave,” Zingus said.
Visibly shaken, she also said that within minutes firefighters had arrived. They carried a female resident out of the house, a dog soon followed, and the occupants were safe. They escaped, however, with only the clothes they were wearing. According to Zingus, the family will be staying with relatives.
Both neighbors described the house as being engulfed in smoke and flames.
According to Mystic Fire Chief Frank Hilbert, the cause of the fire is still under investigation but is likely to be accidental.
“There was heavy fire and smoke. It looks like they were in a small den or breakfast area when it began. That area is heavily damaged but the main house structure appears to be fine,” he said.
Fire departments from Mystic, Old Mystic and the submarine base responded, as did the Groton Ambulance Company and Lawrence + Memorial Hospital paramedics. A total of eight trucks were at the scene.