Thousands pay tribute to fallen New Haven firefighter; Lieutenant injured continues recovery

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP/WTNH) – Firefighters from around the country are among thousands of people who have paid tribute to New Haven firefighter Ricardo Torres Jr., who died battling a house on Valley Street fire earlier this month.

RELATED: New Haven firefighter Torres killed in the line of duty laid to rest in Hartford following ceremonies in New Haven

Funeral and burial services were held for Torres on Thursday. The 30-year-old firefighter died May 12 after becoming trapped in the burning house.

Torres got the nickname “Tornado” at the academy for his energy, and that was on display last Wednesday morning as he charged into that burning home.

He and his fellow firefighters did rescue the people trapped inside, but then Torres himself got trapped. We heard the word “hero” a lot that day.

The hundreds of firefighters lined the street in front of St. Mary’s church. And then there were those touching, raw, emotional words as family — family he was raising and the family of firefighters — spoke inside that church.

It was clear just how strong those family bonds are. We saw firefighters from as far as Texas and Canada, as well as from all over Connecticut.

Cathy Foster said, “I may never understand why this happened but the world needed a hero and God picked you. I am so proud of you and the man you have become. Rest in eternal peace my beautiful boy.”

Another city firefighter, Lt. Samod Rankins, was severely injured in the blaze. He is now in fair condition, recovering in the burn unit at Bridgeport Hospital. He was watching coverage of Torres Jr.’s funeral.

New Haven’s chief said Thursday that even though Rankins couldn’t speak due to his injuries, the first thing he did in the hospital was ask for pen and paper and wrote: “where’s Torres.”

Two other firefighters were injured in that same fire, and we wish all of them a speedy recovery.

A procession featuring fire trucks, police motorcycles and a pipe and drum band preceded a private service at St. Mary Church. Burial followed in the historic Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hartford.

RELATED: Firefighters line overpasses on I-91 from New Haven to Hartford to honor fallen firefighter Ricardo Torres Jr.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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