A Bridgeport woman has died following the apartment fire that sent her 2-year-old daughter to the hospital in critical condition and also injured her husband.
The fire broke out around 12:30 a.m. Sunday in a second-floor, corner apartment at 223 Washington Avenue.
Authorities are investigating the cause, but Mayor Bill Finch said hoarding may have helped the flames to spread.
Residents were coming down a fire escape and out the front door when crews arrived.
Firefighters found Marisol Estrada, 43, and her 2-year-old daughter Allianna in a bedroom beneath piles of clothing. Firefighters carried them to safety through a window.
Estrada and her husband, building superintendent Jose Roman, 53, were in critical condition at Bridgeport Hospital with burns and smoke inhalation.
While Roman's condition has been upgraded to "good," Estrada died of her injuries Monday, according to Bridgeport Hospital spokesman John Cappiello.
"[She was] like my sister, my everything," said Virgen Rodriguez, a close friend of more than 20 years who visited Estrada in the hospital after the blaze. "I'm going to miss her."
Allianna was taken to Shriners Hospital for Children in Boston, where she remains in critical condition.
"We want to express our deepest sympathies for Marisol's family," Finch said in a joint statement with Fire Chief Brian Rooney on Monday. "This is a heart wrenching event for our entire community. Her daughter Allianna remains in our prayers tonight, and we hope people all across Bridgeport keep her in their prayers, too."
Firefighters found Roman as he was trying to get back in the building. He told firefighters that his daughter and her mother were still inside. The couple's two other children were not home when the fire broke out.
"Jose was going crazy trying to get them. He was frantic, trying to get them, climbing up the wall and stuff," Donna Mantel said.
Firefighters faced heavy fire on the second floor and had to crawl to reach the mother and daughter. Two lieutenants and four firefighters were able to locate the pair inside. Officials said Estrada was unconscious and covering her child, trying to protect her.
"They faced severe fire conditions with flames rolling on the ceiling above them," Petruelli said.
A fourth person was treated at an area hospital and released. Crews also helped two elderly residents out of their apartment.
Finch said hoarded items fanned the flames.
"There were literally tons of fuel in this apartment that should not have been there. This should not have happened," Finch said. "This fire was preventable if our society could address the disease of hoarding."
Firefighters were hampered by piles of clothing stacked nearly to the ceiling and narrow aisles through which firefighters could not fit, the Connecticut Post reports, citing Deputy Fire Chief Robert Petrucelli.
“This is a tragic occurrence, and the fact that it has left a 2-year-old child in critical condition is heart wrenching," Finch said. "I’m asking families across our city to join me and my family in praying for those who were injured and displaced by this unfortunate event.”
Before hose water was available, firefighters launched a "rescue operation armed with only several pressurized, handheld water extinguisher," according to a news release from the fire department.
“The rescuers didn't wait for hose lines. As always, our firefighters put other people's safety ahead of their own," Rooney said in a statement.
The fire was contained to one apartment. Firefighters continue to investigate, while friends and family leave flowers and letters at a growing memorial for Estrada and her family.