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Fatal fire in New Haven “rooming house” started on second floor 

NEW HAVEN - State and local investigators are still probing an early Sunday morning fire in New Haven, that killed two occupants of what was listed, according to city records, as a two family house. But, residents dispute this claim.

And, those who lived in or near the house said this residence has long been a drug haven.

In a press conference Monday afternoon, that ended about an hour ago, investigators weren’t saying much other than this double fatal fire remains under investigation

Just after 3 Sunday morning, fire broke out on the second floor of 150 West St., in the Hill section of New Haven. Two people, both third floor residents, did not make it out alive.

“At this time, we will not be identifying the victims,” said Chief John Alston of the New Haven Fire Dept. “They are in the hands of the state medical examiner, who will provide positive identification.”

Previous residents of the third floor include a couple, who have been living on the first floor for the past eight months

“The smoke detectors didn’t work at all on the first floor,” said Dershaya Hargrove. “We didn’t even know there was a fire. If it wasn’t for people banging on our window we would’ve been dead also.”

“I’ve been telling the old landlord in the new landlord and they said they would get to it but they never got to it,” said Hasson Hallett, Hargrove’s husband.

And it was his mother that may have saved the lives of him and his wife.

“When I first brought him here to rent a room, they rented him a room on the third floor where that blanket is hanging out,” said  Sheila Ford, Hallett’s mother. “I told him ‘son, I’m not comfortable with you living up there.’”

So she coaxed her son and daughter-in-law into moving downstairs, to the first floor.

“I said there’s only one way out and if something happens, you’re not gonna be able to get out,” Ford said.

That couple and another former resident told Fox 61 that what was supposed to have been a two family, five bedroom house was actually 10 bedrooms.

“We do have reports that it might have been an illegal rooming house,” said Chief Alston. “Again, it is under investigation.”

Alston confirmed that a person, who jumped from the burning home, remains in critical condition.

It’s been a rough past week for the New Haven Fire Department .

On top of this double fatal, they're dealing with the loss of one of their own – firefighter George Brown, who passed away unexpectedly last week.

Today, the fire department attends his wake and tomorrow they bury him.

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