First Responders

Connecticut Firefighter Killed Battling Blaze, Lieutenant in Critical Condition

May 13, 2021Matt White
firefighter down

30-year-old Ricardo Torres Jr. was killed while battling a fire early Wednesday morning. Photo courtesy New Haven Fire Department.

A 30-year-old New Haven, Connecticut, firefighter died fighting a house fire early Wednesday morning. Ricardo Torres Jr. radioed a mayday call while inside the burning house after two people had been rescued from the blaze. When fellow firefighters reached Torres, he was unresponsive. He was found with New Haven Lt. Samod Rankins, who officials say is in critical condition in a burn unit at a hospital in nearby Bridgeport.

Torres was married with one young son.

Firefighters responded to the fire soon after midnight, where a home with a basement was fully engulfed. A tenant and the 84-year-old owner were inside but quickly evacuated by Torres’ crew. The two firefighters then began attacking the fire, advancing a hose line inside. Torres put out a mayday call soon after.

firefighter down
Lt. Samod Rankins was found unresponsive with firefighter Ricardo Torres Jr. battling a house fire early Wednesday morning. Torres died, while Rankins was in critical condition in a burn unit at a local hospital. Photo courtesy of New Haven Fire Department.

New Haven mayor Justin Elicker said Torres’ mother was at the hospital where Torres was taken and she spoke about “how when he was a young boy he always wanted to be a firefighter,” Elicker said. “Firefighter Torres is a son, he’s a brother, he’s a husband and he’s a hero. He ran inside a building to save other people and lost his life.”

Torres was hired in 2019, Rankins in 2018, said New Haven Fire Chief John Alston. Rankins had been promoted in March to lieutenant.

“Our hearts are broken. Our spirits are hurting. Our faith is strong,” Patrick Cannon, president of the local firefighters union. Surrounded by local firefighters at a press conference, he said, “What you’re seeing now is family. We’re family and we’re hurting.”

Fire departments around the region and country shared messages of condolence and unity on social media with the New Haven department.

Read Next: Body of Firefighter Located After 112 Rescued From Fire at Assisted Living Facility

Matt White
Matt White

Matt White is a former senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. He was a pararescueman in the Air Force and the Alaska Air National Guard for eight years and has more than a decade of experience in daily and magazine journalism.

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