Connecticut officials probing whether hoarding played role in fatal fire


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut officials are trying to determine whether hoarding played any role in a house fire that killed a New Haven firefighter and severely injured one of his colleagues, investigators said Thursday.

Firefighter Ricardo Torres Jr. died and Lt. Samod Rankins suffered serious burns after becoming trapped in the burning home on Valley Street early Wednesday morning. Rankins’ condition was improving, officials said.

Sgt. Paul Makuc, a fire investigator with state police, said during a news conference Thursday that officials were not sure yet whether there were hoarding conditions or “a lot of accumulation of combustible materials” in the home. “Hoarding conditions certainly can hinder not only our investigation but the response of the fire department,” he said. A lot of debris was being removed from the house, he said. The investigation at the scene was expected to take several more days, Makuc said.

Rankins remained in critical condition in the burn treatment unit at Bridgeport Hospital on Thursday. Assistant Fire Chief Justin McCarthy said the firefigher appeared to be getting better. Two other firefighters who suffered less serious injuries have been released from the hospital, McCarthy said.

Firefighters rescued an 84-year-old woman and a man from the home. Both were recovering Thursday.

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