New Haven firefighters unveil memorial for fallen brother; final report released

Memorial for fallen New Haven firefighter
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 6:42 AM EDT|Updated: May. 12, 2022 at 12:15 PM EDT
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NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) - New Haven firefighters unveiled a memorial Thursday honoring the life of a fallen brother.

Ricardo “Rico” Torres Jr. died heroically after running into a burning house 1 year ago.

State police released an update on their investigation into the Valley Street fire on Thursday.

“The fire origin and cause investigation determined that the fire originated in the basement of the structure and spread to the first and second floors causing severe fire and collapse damage,” state police said in their report. “Due to the extent of damage and lack of physical evidence, the cause of the fire was not able to be determined. There is no criminal aspect.”

Thursday, his colleagues honored him at the Dixwell Avenue Fire Station when they unveiled a memorial:

New Haven fire fighters will unveil a memorial honoring the life of Ricardo Torres Jr., who died a year ago responding to a house fire.

A bench was crafted outside the station. It was engraved with Torres’s last alarm: May 12, 2021.

A plaque and Torres’s framed jacket was also hung at the firehouse.

Firefighters said Torres died trying to save others.

Torres’s loved ones said he was an incredible person, a wonderful husband to his wife Erica and a loving father to his son Oliver who is about to turn 2 years old.

Ricardo Torres Jr. with his wife, Erica, and son, Oliver.
Ricardo Torres Jr. with his wife, Erica, and son, Oliver.(Erica Torres)

However, Rico’s life ended abruptly on May 12, 2021, shortly after he ran into the burning home on Valley Street.

The people he was trying to rescue, including an elderly woman, survived, but Rico died from a lack of oxygen.

Lt. Samod Rankins was also rescued from the structure and sustained serious injuries requiring a lengthy recovery.

Shortly after Torres’s death, thousands of firefighters from all over the country came to New Haven to honor Rico at his memorial service.

His loved ones and fellow firefighters said Rico always showed great compassion for everyone in his community and inspired others with his drive to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a firefighter. They said he was a hero in every sense of the word, but his wife Erica reminded everyone at his funeral that the fact didn’t dull the pain of the people who grieved his loss every day.

“Rick, I’m angry. I miss you. I don’t care about you being a hero or not. You’re supposed to go to work, do your job and come home,” Erica Torres said at the service.

New Haven firefighters unveiled a memorial Thursday honoring the life of a fallen brother.
New Haven fire fighters will unveil a memorial honoring the life of a fallen brother.
Firefighters will remember fallen New Haven firefighter Ricardo Torres.