"Improperly discarded smoking materials" caused the fire that killed an 11-year-old boy, injured a firefighter and forced a resident to jump from a window in New Britain just over a week ago, according to fire officials.
Authorities have ruled the fire that happened on 1:21 a.m. Oct. 6 at 756 East Street in New Britain to be accidental.
Cade Townsend IV lived on the third floor of the home and tried to escape from the burning building, but was overcome by heavy smoke. New Britain firefighters tried to find and rescue him, but "were thwarted by the fast-moving blaze which had already engulfed all three floors of the structure by the time" firefighters arrived, fire officials said. They had to leave the building when conditions got worse.
Once the fire was under control, firefighters went back inside and found Cade, unresponsive, on the third floor. Despite frantic efforts to save him, medics pronounced him dead at the scene.
Someone didn't throw smoking materials away properly, sparking the fire in the area of the first floor front porch, the New Britain fire marshal's office, New Britain police and the state police Fire and Explosion Investigations Unit determined.
“What makes this situation all the more tragic and heartbreaking is that something like an improperly discarded smoking material, had such an unbelievably major consequence, costing a child his life and devastating a family,” New Britain Fire Chief Thomas Ronalter said.
Cade was a fifth-grade student at Chamberlain Elementary School.
The house has working smoke detectors and police investigators said it looks like the first started on the first-floor porch and traveled up. There is no sign of criminal activity, police said this morning.
Eleven other residents were able to get out of the building without serious injuries.
One of the victims said he jumped from a window of the burning home after hearing his cousin calling to him from below.
A firefighter was taken to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries sustained while fighting the fire and was released a short time later.
Fire officials caution the public to discard smoking materials in "noncombustible containers" and advise residents not to keep furniture on porches.
"No storage of combustible materials should be allowed in-or-under stairs," fire officials said, noting that stairs should remain clear so people can use them to exit a building safely.
New Britain Fire Chief Thomas Ronalter urges residents to take the following precautions to prevent a fire:
- Install smoke alarms on every floor and in every bedroom. Make sure to check them monthly to ensure they're working and use 10-year batteries to reduce the amount of times you have to change the battery.
- Know two exits for each bedroom.
- Have an escape plan and practice it.
In the event of a fire, he offers these safety tips:
- Stay low and crawl to navigate under the smoke.
- Evacuate your home and stay outside. If there's a fire, don't go back inside.
- Go to a designated meeting place for your family outside the house.