Deadly car crash sparks massive 2-alarm blaze at multi-family home in Manchester

Hartford

MANCHESTER, Conn. (WTNH) — Manchester firefighters and police responded to a deadly car crash on Center Street that started a two-alarm fire at a multi-unit home overnight Thursday.

Manchester Police said the driver crossed over the double yellow lines on Center Street, crashed through a fence and trees, and ultimately struck the six-family apartment building and ignited the fire.

The driver was killed in the incident. Police identified the driver as 20-year-old Angel DeArce of Manchester.

“I was just sleeping, and I heard the fire alarm, so I came outside my room,” said Melanie Rivera, who lived at this multi-family home. “I went out the front door and the top of the door, where the window was, was on fire.”

Melanie Rivera, who lived on the first floor of this multi-family home with her family, started screaming and alerting people there was a fire. She, along with everyone inside of the house, made it out safely. 

Upon arrival, firefighters saw heavy fire in the front, on the second floor, and the attic. Crews worked for several hours to completely extinguish the fire.

“It was scary because I heard people screaming for help,” said Ricky Robles, who lives across the street. “I was like, ‘this is surreal’… seeing that happen in front of my eyes.”

Ricky Robles told News 8 he heard a loud boom and saw the building quickly become engulfed in flames. Both he and his mom were in disbelief, recounting the immediate aftermath.

“I came down and my husband was like, ‘well, we have to get ready and be prepared because we don’t know if we have to evacuate’,” said Waleska Robles, Ricky’s mother. “So, we got dressed, got our pets, our purses, and our belongings to be ready just in case.”

Manchester’s Fire Marshal, Manchester Police, and Connecticut State Police’s Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit are investigating. The residents of the home are displaced and the building will be demolished.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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