New Haven

1 Firefighter Dead, 1 Critically Injured in House Fire in New Haven

Officials said one of the injured firefighters is in critical condition. Firefighters rescued two people from the house.

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A New Haven firefighter has died after a fire at a home in New Haven early Wednesday morning, another is in critical condition and two others sustained injuries.

Officials have identified the firefighter who died as 30-year-old Ricardo Torres, Jr. He joined the fire department in July 2019 and served at Engine 6.

“Firefighter Torres is a son, he’s a brother, he’s a husband, he‘s a father and he’s a hero and he ran inside a building to save other people and lost his life and his family lost him,” New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said.

Torres also has a young family with another child on the way, according to Patrick Cannon, president of New Haven Firefighters Local 825.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to support the Torres family. Those interested in donating can click here. GoFundMe has verified this page and that the funds will go to the family.

New Haven Lt. Samod Rankins is in critical condition at Bridgeport Hospital and two other firefighters have injuries after battling a fire at a home on Valley Street in New Haven early Wednesday morning.

New Haven firefighter Ricardo Torres and LT Samod Rankins Fire on Valley Street in New Haven
City of New Haven Fire Services and NBC Connecticut
New Haven firefighter Ricardo Torres Jr., upper left, was killed, and Lt. Samod Rankins, upper right, was injured while fighting a fire on Valley Street in New Haven on Wednesday morning.
One firefighter has died and another is in critical condition after a fire in New Haven early Wednesday morning.

"He is a fighter," Elicker said of Rankins. He said he is optimistic, hopeful and there to support his family at a difficult time.

Rankins was hired by New Haven Fire in February 2018. He was promoted in March 2021 and also serves at Engine 6.

New Haven Fire Chief John Alston Jr. said he hired Torres and wants him to be remembered for doing what he loved to do and for people to know that he sacrificed his life to save someone else.

A firefighter was killed and another is in critical condition after a fire at a home on Valley Street in New Haven Wednesday morning.

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

The Connecticut State Firefighters Association, Fallen Firefighters Memorial Committee will honor Torres. His name will be added to the state’s Fallen Firefighters Memorial. 

“It is a very difficult time in our department. Many of our members are hurting. We ask that the public keep them in their prayers,” Alston said.

The fire chief said that some of the firefighters will be numb, some will be angry, some will be sad and in the days to come they will question whether they did the right thing. They did just what they were supposed to do, Alson said. 

When their brothers were in trouble, they went and got them, Alton said.

“This is such a challenging time for our community and to lose someone that is truly a hero, that went into harm’s way to ensure the safety of others, this will be something that impacts us for months and years to come, but I am proud to be a part of the city of New Haven and a fire department that has responded with such compassion to the loss of a very important member of our fire department in the community,” Mayor Elicker said.

“We lost a member of our fire department today and a member of our community, and I wanted to take a moment to say how proud I am of the way that the chief and the fire department have come together and supported the family at the hospital tonight, and at the fire station,” Elicker said.

Firefighters responded to the home at 12:45 a.m and rescued two people.

One was treated at the scene and another, an 84-year-old woman, was transported to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

Around 1:15 a.m., firefighters struck a second alarm. Soon after, there was a mayday signal.

Fire officials said one firefighter reported being lost and disoriented and a team that searched for the firefighter found two firefighters, Torres and Rankins, unconscious on the second floor.

"Members of various companies worked under intense conditions to get the
members to safety," a statement from the chief said.

The two other injured firefighters were identified by the chief as Tyrone Reed and Tyler Skolnik. According to the department, both firefighters were treated at a hospital and later released.

The fire was under control at 3:23 a.m.

Alston said the fire is under investigation.

Whenever there is a death, the state medical examiner, the state police fire marshal, and the state’s attorney are called in, Alston added.

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