One person is dead and 60 others were displaced after a two-alarm fire fire ripped through a four-story apartment building at 54-58 Chestnut Street in Manchester early this morning, and officials said the blaze broke out in the victim's bedroom.
Police said on Thursday afternoon that Thomas Lafontaine, 26, was found dead in a first-floor apartment at the Centennial Apartment complex. Fire officials said Lafontaine lived in unit 54A-18.
Firefighters responded to the complex around 12:30 a.m. and tried to rescue Lafontaine but said furniture had been placed against the doors.
Lafontaine's friends said he'd gotten a new mattress and the old one was leaning on the door because the units are small and there was nowhere else to put it.
When firefighters were able to get inside, they were driven out by exploding ammunition, according to fire officials.
Investigators determiend that the fire broke out between two upholstered chairs in Lafontaine's bedroom, near the floor, according to fire officials.
Lafontaine's friends described him as a sweet, soft-spoken man who worked hard all week at a moving company in New Britain. He had guns because he enjoyed going to the shooting range on weekends, they said.
Police said they found six or seven guns in a safe or otherwise secured.
Neighbors said a young man who lives in an apartment there was getting home around midnight when he saw smoke and started banging on doors to alert other residents.
The State Police Bomb Squad was called in to secure the scene before firefighters could search the apartment.
They removed several hundred rounds of ammunition from the apartment, along with two hand grenades and a mortar shell that appeared to be inert, according to fire officials.
The Red Cross and Manchester Human Services Department are assisting residents who are displaced and The Red Cross is operating a shelter at the Manchester Senior Center.
Firefighters said on Thursday morning that around 60 people were displaced and were sheltered at the Manchester Senior Citizens Center.
Fire officials said Thursday afternoon that residents in 26 of the 50 apartments have returned to their homes and tenants of eight additional units are expected to return later today.
Up to 16 apartments will be uninhabitable overnight or longer, according to firefighters.
Fire officials said the fire is believed to be accidental. The cause of the blaze is undetermined "based on multiple possible ignition sources."