NORWALK, Conn. — A 7-year-old Norwalk student has died after an early morning house fire Saturday.
The Norwalk Fire Department was called to the home on Nelson Avenue around 5 a.m. Saturday. Arriving firefighters found heavy fire on the front of the house, as well as burning powerlines and two burning vehicles in the driveway. All city engines were on scene as well as surrounding agencies.
Neighbors told FOX61 they woke up to what sounded like explosions or fireworks nearby.
"The fire was circling around the entire house and it was really dramatic and really big," said Pamela De La Cruz, a neighbor that lives two doors down.
Her brother, Luis, says he was woken up to the sounds and could hear crying and screaming.
"Everybody was crying, even me," said Frias-De La Cruz. "I got really scared."
A man, woman, and a 9-year-old boy escaped and were in the backyard, trying to rescue the 7-year-old girl sleeping in a second-floor bedroom, officials said.
The man broke his arm and suffered burns after falling when trying to climb to the window, according to fire officials.
Firefighters raised a ladder to the window. One firefighter climbed inside the room, found the child, and passed the child outside to the firefighters on the ladder.
On the ground, paramedics took the child to a nearby hospital, where she later died.
The other family members are being treated at the same hospital for smoke inhalation, minor burns, and injuries.
"Hopefully the family is able to grieve about her death and hopefully they are able to overcome," De La Cruz told FOX61 just moments after finding out about the girl's passing.
Norwalk Public Schools also issued a statement on their Facebook page Saturday afternoon on the girl's death.
"Norwalk suffered the tragic loss of a child overnight following a devastating fire in the city. Our hearts go out to family and friends impacted by this awful tragedy. The superintendent has activated our network of school counselors and other staff members, and NPS stands ready to provide support to all who need it when school resumes on Monday."
Superintendent Dr. Alexandra Estrella said at a press conference they have activated the crisis intervention team for faculty, staff, and students ahead of this week.
"I would like to extend my condolences to the family impacted by this tragic event," she said.
Mayor Harry Rilling said it's a tragedy for the city "beyond all imagination."
A Norwalk firefighter was also burned and was treated on the scene. The fire chief said there will be peer support groups for the firefighters who responded to the scene.
Chief Gino Gatto said the fire was tough and labor-intensive.
"Your adrenaline gets pumping when you hear that there's a house fire or any kind of structure fire," he said. "It goes to an unbelievable level when you hear that there’s somebody trapped inside and it goes even higher when you find out that it’s a child."
Nelson Avenue reopened around 5 p.m. Saturday. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
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