Pushed back by flames and with a roof starting to collapse, firefighters in North Branford were unable to save a man trapped inside his home after a large fire broke out inside early Friday morning.
The fatal fire broke out at the Pine View Drive home before 6 a.m., and when firefighters arrived, they said heavy flames were shooting from inside with thick, black smoke billowing from windows and the roof.
William Antonopoulos, 34, died while being trapped in the home. Two other people that lived in the home were able to escape the inferno.
Neighbor Rose Noonan said a woman and her two adult sons lived in the home.
"My son's girlfriend said she heard the lady screaming, 'My son is in the house. Help. Help,'" Noonan said.
Firefighters made a rescue attempt, but the intense flames forced them to retreat as the roof began to give way.
"There was a significant amount of fire," said North Branford Fire Chief Bill Seward. "Initially, we made entry to the front door and made it a short distance. The ceiling started to collapse. The fire had already penetrated the roof."
Seward said once the fire was out and they were able to get inside, they discovered the victim in a back bedroom.
With one person wrapped in a blanket, family members consoled each other as nearby firefighters continued to put out hot spots that flared up and sent smoke soaring into the neighborhood once again.
"It's a shame the son didn't make it out," said East Haven resident Chuck Chieppo.
Fire officials said they didn't know if the home had any working smoke detectors. The fire remains under investigation.
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