Firefighter Dies Battling New Haven (CT) Fire

New Haven fire apparatus
Tribune News Service

Christine Dempsey

Hartford Courant

(TNS)

One firefighter died and a second was injured early Wednesday while battling a house fire in New Haven.

Officials identified the deceased firefighter as Ricardo “Rico” Torres. The second firefighter, Lt. Samod Rankins, is in critical condition at the burn unit at Bridgeport Hospital.

Both were pulled, unconscious, from the second floor of a house at 190 Valley St., Fire Chief John Alston said.

Two civilians also were rescued, fire officials said.

“This is a very difficult time for our department,” Alston said. He said he hired Torres.

“Since he was a child he wanted to be a firefighter,” the chief said. “I want him to be remembered for doing what he loved to do. And that he sacrificed his life to save someone else.”

Staff from the state medical examiner’s office, the state police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit and the state’s attorney’s office are investigating the fire, Alston said.

Mayor Justin Elicker said he’s proud of the way the fire department has come together and supported the firefighter’s family.

“This is such a challenging time for our community, and to lose someone who is truly such a hero, that went into harm’s way to ensure the safety of others, will be something that impacts us for months and years to come,” he said.

The fire was reported about 12:45 a.m. When crews pulled up they encountered heavy fire, Alston said.

Two civilians, a tenant and the 84-year-old property owner, were rescued. One was taken to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation that was not considered life-threatening, he said. The other was treated at the scene.

Douglas Wardlaw, a New Haven fire investigator, said, “So although this was a tragedy, once again, the heroes rose above and beyond.”

Department leaders called for a second alarm, which brought a second team of firefighters and equipment to the scene. Not long after that, a firefighter in the burning house “reported being lost and disoriented,” Alston said.

“It turned out there were two of them on the second floor,” he said of the firefighters. “Both were found in an unconscious state and were removed.”

From Stamford to Tolland, fire departments around the state mourned New Haven’s loss, extending their condolences on social media. Tolland firefighters tweeted: “We are heartbroken at the news coming out of New Haven this morning. Know that you are all in our thoughts.”

Hartford Firefighters Local 760 said they have New Haven firefighters in their thoughts and prayers and also are praying for the speedy recovery of the hospitalized firefighter. Hartford lost a firefighter in October 2014 when firefighter Kevin Bell was unable to make it out of a second-floor room while while working to put out a house fire on Blue Hills Avenue.

Check back for updates.

Christine Dempsey may be reached at cdempsey@courant.com.

©2021 Hartford Courant. Visit courant.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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ORIGINAL STORY BELOW:

Christine Dempsey

Hartford Courant

(TNS)

A firefighter died early Wednesday while battling a house fire in New Haven.

The firefighter, who was not identified, was one of two who had to be pulled, unconscious, from the second floor of a house at 190 Valley Street, Fire Chief John Alston said.

Two civilians also were rescued, fire officials said.

“This is a very difficult time for our department,” Alston said. He said he hired the firefighter who died.

“Since he was a child he wanted to be a firefighter,” the chief said.

Mayor Justin Elicker said he’s proud of the firefighters. It’s difficult “to lose someone who is such a hero, who goes into harm’s way to ensure the safety of others.”

“This is such a challenging time for our community,” Elicker said.

From Stamford to Tolland, fire departments around the state mourned New Haven’s loss, extending their condolences on social media. Tolland firefighters tweeted: “We are heartbroken at the news coming out of New Haven this morning. Know that you are all in our thoughts.”

Check back for more information.

Christine Dempsey may be reached at cdempsey@courant.com.

©2021 Hartford Courant. Visit courant.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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