A mother died of smoke inhalation after a fast-moving fire at a home in Derby on Sunday morning.
The fire was reported at 204-206 Derby Ave. around 7 a.m. Upon arrival, firefighters reported the home was “engulfed in flames.”
It took 30 minutes for crews to get the fire under control with help from Orange and Ansonia fire departments.
Fire officials said one person was unaccounted for and after searching the building, the body of 46-year-old Nilda Ruiz was located in her second floor apartment.
The victim’s sister Rosalia Ruiz told Eyewitness News she was powerless and she knew it.
"I broke down and started screaming,” she said. “[There’s] nothing I could do."
Circumstances for the manner of Ruiz’s death are pending further investigation.
"Yeah all my prayers are going to their family because that's awful...awful,” said Collin Finnucan, who is a Derby fire victim. “It could have been any of us."
Cleanup continued on Monday as state police detectives from the Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit work along with the Derby Fire Marshal to determine the cause of the fire.
Five families were displaced by the fire. The American Red Cross setup a temporary shelter for 20 people, 15 adults and five children, on Sunday. They are staying in hotel for a few days.
"Nobody wants to be in a fire and to be able to help them with their first step from being a fire victim to on the road to recovery is so important,” Missy Lundeen with American Red Cross said.
Lundeen said she has volunteered to collect essentials for everyone impacted.
Victims were in and out of the building trying to salvage anything they can, but most told Eyewitness News everything was gone.
"It was a nightmare,” Finnucan said. “To wake up to that stuff...that's not fun."
Finnucan said he was woken up by the sound of his dogs barking.
"All I remember was everyone screaming and all of the commotion...and literally waking up to flames over my head,” Finnucan said.
State police told Eyewitness News on Monday that there was no update into the investigation and the cause of the fire remains unknown at this time.
Finnucan and others said they are keeping their heads up as they try to get back on their feet.
“Can't take any steps back from here, so just gotta keep moving forward,” he said.
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