NEW BRITAIN — A city and school community are in mourning Monday following the tragic loss of two brothers following a house fire Sunday.
“It burned so fast. I never saw anything like that,” said neighbor Carmelo Rivera.
Rivera heard a woman screaming that her kids were trapped inside the burning home next door on Elam Street in New Britain.
“I ran over there to see if I could do something to help,” he said.
Rivera was met with a raging fire.
“Popping like popcorn. Pop, pop, pop. I said what’s going on in there but there was no way that people could get in there,” he recalled.
His grandson tried to get to the trapped brothers.
“He grabbed a big rock and broke the window but a big pop of smoke and fire came out.”
The inferno was too intense even for firefighters inside.
“There was fire in every room on the first floor,” said Fire Cheif Raul Ortiz. Fearing for the safety of his men, Chief Raul Ortiz gave the order to pull out. “Our firefighters stayed in there as long as they possibly could,” he said.
Two firefighters suffered minor burns, another fell off the roof.
“Fortunately the firefighter was released. He suffered minor injuries,” said Chief Ortiz.
"There’s still no word on a cause of the fire. We know it started on the first floor. We're going to go through this with a fine tooth comb,” said Chief Ortiz.
By Monday morning, a charred shell was all that’s left of the home. Four people lived in the two-story cape. A mother and her three kids. The daughter escaped, her two sons did not. One was a senior at New Britain High School.
“My sons best friend,” said Glendalys Rodriguez from New Britain. “He was going to graduate with my son this year. I just came here to pay my respects to the mom because I’m a mother too.”
Rodriguez placed candle and a flower on the front lawn.
“My son used to tell me that he used to be fun. He used to joke around and be the clown of the classroom," she said.
High school students said they wore black and released some balloons into the sky today are trying to organize a vigil at a later date. The family is being helped by the Red Cross.
Officials are saying there is no reason to suspect arson or foul play. The New Britain Police Department is still waiting on the result of dental records before identifying the victims.
It’ll be up to the fire marshal to determine a cause.