Connecticut firefighter dies from injuries sustained at fire

A 22-year veteran of the North Haven Fire Department has died from injuries he sustained while working at an early morning blaze at a four-family home on Monday, the fire chief confirmed, calling the death a tragic loss for his department.

Chief Paul Januszewski told reporters that the firefighter, Matthias Wirtz, 46, was not inside the multi-family structure at the time of his injury, but could not elaborate. The Connecticut State Police fire unit is investigating the cause of the blaze, which displaced at least 13 residents on Christmas night.

"We worked hard to save him, real hard," Januszewski said of Wirtz, noting there was an ambulance and paramedics on the scene because of the fire. "We made every effort possible."

Januszewski said he began working for the department around the same time as Wirtz. He said the firefighter was excited about recently being tasked as a driver.

"He was everybody’s friend. He was a great person. He was a great family man," Januszewski said. "He would do anything for anybody."

The fire chief said neighboring fire departments that helped to battle the fire will continue to help his department on Monday as members grapple with Wirtz's death.

"Through the course of the day today, those departments will continue to support our department in responding to incidents and to allow our members some time to grieve," he said. Fire departments from around the state expressed condolences on social media to North Haven firefighters and Wirtz's family.

Firefighters were called to the multi-family home shortly after 1 a.m. and discovered heavy fire coming out of the back of the three-floor building. Flames had also reached into the attic.