ENFIELD, Conn. (AP) — Four bodies were found inside a two-family Connecticut house Wednesday, where four people had gone unaccounted for earlier following a morning fire, officials said.
The victims' names were not released Wednesday night, and officials said they were still investigating the cause of the blaze, which was not considered suspicious.
"It is a very sad day for Thompsonville village and the town of Enfield as a whole to lose four of our citizens. I would like to send my deepest sympathies to the families of the victims," Thompsonville Fire Chief Frank Alaimo said at a news conference.
Firefighters said they couldn't enter the house on the Connecticut River when they arrived about 6:15 a.m. because flames were shooting out of the building and the second floor had collapsed into the first.
Fire officials had to stabilize the building before going inside to investigate and search for victims, fire department spokesman Mark Zarcaro said. The deaths were the highest number of fatalities in an Enfield fire in 30 years, he said.
He said earlier that the four missing people, who lived in the home's north side, ranged in age from about 40 to late 60s. Five residents escaped.
Residents of the home included an older woman, her adult daughter and two adult grandsons, family friend and town resident Jessica Rozalski said.
"It's sad. It really is," Rozalski said as she stood on the street outside the home with a friend earlier in the day. "I've known them my whole life and now it's possible they won't be here no more. I don't know what to think."
Rozalski said she spoke with one of the residents of the home's north side who tried to break windows to rescue people inside but was turned back by the fire.
The house's north side was charred inside; the outside had burn marks around where the windows were and the roof sagged. Authorities said the building, in a working-class neighborhood about 20 miles north of Hartford, will have to be torn down.
Firefighters said that after they arrived, they tried to get in through doors and with a fire truck ladder to the second floor, but they were turned away by flames and heat.
"They made a valiant effort at every opening to at least get their heads in and try to locate anybody that might be trying to escape this fire, but it was just an impossible situation," Zarcaro said.
A woman and her two sons, who are about 19 and 12 years old, lived on the south side and escaped, said the woman's sister, Lisa Lape.
Lape said she learned about the fire on TV and Facebook and rushed to the scene from her home in Bristol. She ran up to firefighters and told them her sister, Mary Lapane, lived there.
Lape said her sister was in the shower when she smelled smoke and was able to escape with her family.
"She's in shock," Lape said of her sister. "She's OK. We're going to get through this."