Man Critically Injured in Christmas Eve Fire in Manchester

Manchester fire and police are investigating a fire at a duplex that left a man severely burned.

Police say the fire at an apartment on Westerly Street started around 3:00pm. They are still trying to figure out what sparked the flames.

Neighbors quickly realized someone might be in trouble.

“That’s when I saw smoke coming from the windows and what appeared to be a man yelling,” Norman Rodriguez of Manchester, said.

Rodriguez launched a potentially life-saving to rescue the only person inside the apartment. He was joined by Nicholas Risley who lives in the apartment directly next to the one on fire.

“We see the fire coming out of the front glass, glass is shattering all over the place and we’re trying to get the door open,” Risley said.

“I tried to open the door. It wouldn’t open. So I kicked it in,” Rodriguez said.

Inside they found a 22-year-old man lying on the floor, with burns all over. Flames and black smoke were closing in.

“We were like we have to get him out of here. We’re not just going to let him burn here and die,” Risley said.

“I tried to pull him out. He slipped out of my hands a couple times,” Rodriguez said.

Finally they were able to get him out of the apartment and onto the front lawn.

“He was completely burnt and he was screaming. They put him in an ambulance and took off,” Maddie Garcia of Manchester, said.

Police say the young man was rushed to Hartford Hospital then airlifted to the burn unit at Bridgeport Hospital in critical condition.

The apartment where the fire started was heavily damaged.

There was also damage to the next door unit, number 17, where Risley lives. He’s thankful he, his mother, and step-father are okay and their thoughts are with their neighbors on this Christmas Eve.

“It puts things in perspective for people you know what I mean to kind of appreciate this time of year,” Risley said.

Risley and his family won’t be able to stay in their apartment for now. They’re receiving help from family members and the Red Cross.

Investigators are still trying to determine what sparked the fire.

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