A man was taken to the burn unit in Bridgeport after firefighters pulled him from a blaze that tore through a New Haven home overnight, hospitalizing him, two other occupants and two firefighters.
The fire broke out just before midnight at 66 Dickerman St. Firefighters struggled to get there on a tight one-way road due to the snow, but when they arrived they found flames coming from the second and third floors.
Two people who lived in the first floor got out safely and told firefighters that a person was trapped upstairs. Firefighters found a man in his 60s unconscious on the second floor landing after likely trying to escape. He was initially taken to a New Haven hospital and transferred to the Connecticut Burn Center in Bridgeport in critical condition.
The two people from the first floor are being treated for smoke inhalation at a hospital in New Haven.
New Haven firefighter Jason Rivera, one of the first firefighters to enter the building, was taken to Yale-New Haven hospital and then transferred to the Bridgeport Burn Center to be treated for second-degree burns to both legs, according to Lt. Jimmy Kottage, president of the New Haven firefighters union. He was bringing a hose line into the house when he was burned by the fast-moving fire. Rivera has since been released and is "doing well," Kottage said.
Another firefighter, whose name hasn't been released, was also transported to the hospital after the fire to be treated for frostbite, Kottage said.
Firefighters faced several other obstacles fighting the fire, including encountering a hoarding situation in the building.
"There was a lot of debris upstairs and we're looking to see how long it's been going here with him and stuff like that," said Robert Doyle, New Haven Fire Marshal. " It's still under investigation."
Investigaters have thrown much of the debris out the window as they sort through it all to figure out how the fire started.
The man's neighbor and friend, Charles Macri, who watched crews battle the house fire, said he wish he would have gotten here sooner.
"If I realized that he was in the house I would have went right in," Macri said. "I would have known, I would have known where the fire was. I probably would have brought him out."
The man lived alone in the house with his dog, who firefighters also rescued from the blaze.
"I cried a lot last night when I was watching the whole nine yards. I was out here with the firemen, God Bless 'em," the man's friend, Charles Macri said. "I'll tell ya, it wasn't pretty, but knowing he was a friend of mine wasn't even prettier."
Macri told firefighters that just two days ago, his friend complained that the extension cord connected to his space heater overheated.
The fire marshal confirmed that though nothing has been ruled out. A space heater next to the bed is a primary focus of this investigation.
The identities of the three occupants and firefighter with frostbite hospitalized have not been released.
The official cause of the fire remains under investigation.