11-year-old boy killed in New Britain fire - WFSB 3 Connecticut

11-year-old boy killed in New Britain fire

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Cade Johnson Jr., 11, was killed in a fire in New Britain Tuesday morning(WFSB photo) Cade Johnson Jr., 11, was killed in a fire in New Britain Tuesday morning(WFSB photo)
(WFSB photo) (WFSB photo)

A deadly early morning fire at a three-family home in New Britain remained under investigation on Tuesday.

A school official confirmed to Eyewitness News Tuesday morning that an 11-year-old boy was killed in the blaze at 756 East St.

The boy was identified by fire officials as Cade Townsend, Jr.

School officials said Cade was a fifth grade student at Chamberlain Elementary School. A crisis team has been assembled for students, they said.

"The District has responded by providing additional support personnel, including counselors and social workers, to the school where the student attended," said Superintendent Kelt Cooper. "The student was well-liked and well-known to fellow students who were, obviously, affected emotionally by the loss of a classmate."

Cooper went on the say that the district would limit information regarding the student and that the district as a whole mourns the loss.

"A raging fire engulfed the first, second and third floor of the building and the family member screaming that there was a son still in the building," said Mayor Erin Stewart.

Firefighters were called to the scene around 1:20 a.m.

One resident said he had to jump from a window.

"I go check out through the rest of the house see if like my family is still in the house," said Kenneth Anderson. "Once I seen there was no one in the house, the lights cut out and I got scared because there was more black smoke and I couldn't go out either side. I had to jump out the second floor window. I was dangling there until I really gathered up the courage to let go."

One of the callers reported that a child was trapped in the third floor apartment.

By the time firefighters arrived, they said there was heavy fire. Assistance was needed from surrounding fire departments.

They said they attempted several times to perform a search for the trapped child, but due to deteriorating conditions, all firefighters had to be withdrawn from the building.

Neighbors told Eyewitness News that it was a frightening scene.

"I was shocked, stunned, especially hearing screams that I've never heard in my life, horrific yelling," said Steven Ayala, a neighbor. "I got a 11-year-old son myself so it hurts to see a 11-year-old boy lose his life like that."

After the fire was under control, firefighters said they resumed the search. The child was found unresponsive on the third floor. He was pronounced dead on the scene by emergency medical personnel.

"The New Britain Fire Department and New Britain EMS did all that we could do to try to save this young boy, and it's just so sad and unfortunate that we're standing here today dealing with something like this," Stewart said.

The principal at Chamberlain Elementary, Jane Perez, said just one week ago Townsend Jr. said when he grew up he wanted to be a chef just like his dad.

Perez said Townsend Jr. loved to play basketball and and would always look out for his younger brother James.

School bus driver Therese Lesinski drove the route to Cade's elementary school and said "When you meet these kids, they become your kids when they get on the bus and that's the biggest impact. Someone's child is lost."

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Paul Salinas said grief counselors shared the halls with students on Tuesday.

"Some will write a note about the child, some will write a message to the family, so there are various ways that we have students that participate and discuss what happened," Salinas said.

Fire officials said all three apartments were occupied at the time the fire started.

Eleven people were able to escape unhurt.

However, a fire lieutenant was treated and released from an area emergency room after suffering what they called a ground injury.

Fire officials said there were no firewalls inside the home.

"Typical building feature in that is the walls have no firestops," said New Britain Fire Chief Thomas Ronalter.

Investigators said there was extensive damage to the building.

They are still looking for what sparked the fire, though they said there were no signs of criminal activity.

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