North Haven firefighter was decorated 22-year veteran, worked at Ground Zero

Officials said North Haven fire companies were dispatched to calls for a building fire at 27 Quinnipiac Avenue around 1 a.m.
Published: Dec. 26, 2022 at 5:41 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 27, 2022 at 7:19 PM EST
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NORTH HAVEN, Conn. (WFSB) - A firefighter succumbed to his injuries after a fire in North Haven Monday morning.

Officials said North Haven fire companies were dispatched to calls for a building fire at 27 Quinnipiac Avenue around 1 a.m.

Firefighters saw heavy smoke coming from the back of the multi-family home when they arrived, officials said.

While firefighters battled the blaze, a “Mayday” was called for a firefighter who collapsed, fire officials said.

The firefighter was transported to the hospital a short time later, where he was later pronounced deceased. The chief medical examiner’s office says his cause of death was cardiovascular disease.

The North Haven Fire Department identified the fallen firefighter as Matthias Wirtz.

Firefighter Matthias Wirtz.
Firefighter Matthias Wirtz.(North Haven Fire Department)

Wirtz, 46, was a 22-year veteran of the department, fire officials said.

The fire department said Wirtz started as a volunteer firefighter in North Haven in 1996. He graduated from Notre Dame High School in West Haven.

Wirtz received several awards and letters of commendation. He responded to New York City on 9/11, the department said.

“The North Haven Fire Department wants to thank our neighboring departments for the outpouring of support during this difficult time as well as fire station coverage,” the department said.

His friends say Matt Wirtz was genuine, and once you got to know him his personality was infectious.

“He was very caring and giving and willing to help anyone at any time,” says his friend, retired firefighter Mike.

Mike and Matt were a part of a pipes and drums band.

Wirtz was a talented snare drummer for the New Haven County Firefighters Emerald Society.

“We spend the better part of our careers working with the fire service conducting fire investigations. Our hearts go out to the NHFD during this tragic time,” said Trooper Paul Makuc with Connecticut State Police.

Governor Ned Lamont ordered flags to half-staff in honor of Wirtz. He released a statement:

There were no other injuries reported, the fire department said.

“It hurts a lot but it’ll be alright,” said Megan Stafford.

Megan wiped away tears.

She knows she’s lucky. Megan and her kids weren’t home when a fire started in the house.

Megan was out for Christmas. She came back around 2 a.m. Monday morning to see with firefighters and investigators in the street.

“The first thing I was like please don’t be our house, and of course, it was,” Megan said.

Four families totaling 13 people live there. They are all ok.

“That’s horrible it’s just a horrible situation for whatever reason. I’m really sad and my condolences to his family,” said Megan, talking about Wirtz.

Megan is still shaken up.

“It was a pretty intense thing to see,” she said. “We’ll be alright.”

The Red Cross is assisting the displaced families.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Megan said she believes the fire started in the attic.

This is a developing story. Stay with Eyewitness News 3 for updates.

13 people are now displaced after the fire. Everyone made it out safely, but Firefighter Matthias Wirtz did not.
North Haven officials investigate overnight structure fire