By Patricia Villers, New Haven Register, Conn.
Jan. 24–SHELTON — A Shelton man died Thursday from burns sustained in a multi-family house fire Wednesday night, despite the heroic efforts of an off-duty firefighter.
Michael Boroski, 52, of 593 Howe Ave., was pronounced dead in the burn unit at Bridgeport Hospital where he was taken after being found unconscious in his first-floor apartment.
But Echo Hose, Hook and Ladder Company firefighter Chris Jones managed to save the lives of four others.
“I wish it worked out better, and had a better outcome,” Jones said. “I knew who he (Boroski) was. We used to live in the same neighborhood.”
Being in the right place at the right time is how Jones described his role in the rescue of four residents in the three-story house downtown.
“I was walking back to my truck in the parking lot of the (nearby) Boys & Girls Club when I heard a smoke detector going off,” Jones said Thursday afternoon.
“I looked up and saw an orange glow coming from the back of a house. At first, I thought it was a back porch light,” he said.
Jones soon realized the house was on fire.
“I got my cell phone out and starting running up the (Maple Street) hill. I called the police department and told them there was a working structure fire across from J&B Auto Body. I told them I’d get them the address when I got there,” he said.
“I guess I was in the right place at the right time.”
Jones said he ran up the backstairs to get the people out of the third-floor apartment. He said the family spoke Polish, and there was a language barrier. “I just had to yell at them to get out,” he said.
Jones said a younger family member spoke English and said something about her mother wanting to go back for the cat, but he wouldn’t let her.
Jones then determined there was no one in the basement apartment or the second-floor apartment.
Jones banged on front the door of the first-floor apartment and yelled “fire department!” but got no answer, he said. “I didn’t want to kick the door in; I thought it might fuel the fire.”
When the fire department arrived, Jones and three other firefighters entered the first-floor apartment and pulled out Boroski, who Jones said was unconscious.
He said Boroski had suffered burns to the upper part of his body. He was taken to Bridgeport Hospital burn unit and died early Thursday morning, Fire Marshal Jim Tortora said.
Jones said the firefighters’ search and evacuation training “kicks in” in that situation. “You just react,” he said.
Shelton firefighters from Echo Hose, Huntington and White Hills responded, Jones said. Derby firefighters also were on scene to provide mutual aid.
Tortora said he is uncertain of the cause of death, but Boroski was the only person in the first-floor apartment where the fire started in the living room.
Tortora said the state Fire Marshal and the Shelton Police Department had been called in to help investigate, and they were on the scene until around 12:30 a.m. Thursday. Fire officials believe the cause of the fire was reckless use of smoking materials.
On Wednesday night, Jones’ Facebook page started filling up with many thank-you notes from friends calling his actions heroic. The kudos and kind words continued on his page into Thursday evening.
Tortora said all the occupants of the residence are staying with family or friends. The house is uninhabitable.
The American Red Cross said in a release the organization is helping the displaced residents. Red Cross volunteers John Glendon, Peter Fusco and Jennifer Atkins met with the families and provided Red Cross comfort kits and information about recovering from a fire.
Reporter Charlotte Adinolfi contributed to this story.
(c)2014 the New Haven Register (New Haven, Conn.)
Visit the New Haven Register (New Haven, Conn.) at www.nhregister.com