An 11-year-old boy died in a two-alarm fire that engulfed a multi-family home in New Britain, Connecticut on Tuesday morning that also injured a firefighter and forced a resident to jump from a window.
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.
Emergency crews received the first report of the fire at 756 East Street and Sunrise Avenue at 1:21 a.m., then several 911 calls came in.
When firefighters arrived, they found the three-story home engulfed and discovered that the inside of the charred home was much worse than it was outside. The fire chief said fire burned through parts of the floor.
As firefighters tried to put out the blaze, they began searching for Cade, who was trapped, but had to leave the building because the conditions were getting worse, according to a news release from police.
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.
Cade was a fifth-grade student at Chamberlain Elementary School and the school district is bringing in a crisis team to help students and staff begin to cope with the tragedy.
"There are various ways that we allow students to do this. Some will write a note about the child if they knew the child, some will write a message to the family," Paul Salina, chief operations officer for the New Britain School District said.
"This is an absolute horrible tragedy for the city of New Britain, for our school district, and our prayers go out to the family,” New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart said.
Jasmine Thomas, of New Britain, wrote a card in class to Cade's family.
"I'm really sorry for your loss and it must be hard because it was your own son and your brother," Thomas said.
But that didn't feel like enough, so she and her aunt left balloons and a teddy bear at the scene of the fire on Tuesday night.
Jackie Boucher, of New Britain, said they did it to "show a little gesture of love and that we miss him."
"We wrote our names in like rest in peace and hearts and stuff," Thomas said.
Neighbors also dropped off balloons, stuffed animals and signs to honor his memory.
The community is doing everything they can for a family who had to watch as firefighters tried desperately to save their son, but couldn't reach him in time.
Townsend's father is a cook at J. Timothy's Tavern in Plainville, so the restaurant is taking up a collection behind the bar and starting a donation page for his family.
Steven Ayala lives nearby and said he saw the flames and heard the yells for help.
"I was shocked, stunned you know, especially hearing screams that I've never heard in my life. Horrific yelling," he said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
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.
Grief counselors will be at the elementary school today and the school is working to put together some sort of donation drive for the 11 survivors.
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.
"The lights went off and I got scared because there was more black smoke and I couldn’t go out through either side because there was more black smoke and it was getting hot," Kenneth Anderson said. "I had to jump out the second floor window. I was dangling there until I really got up the courage to let go."
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.