A second body was found by firefighters combing through the rooming house partially destroyed in a massive fire in New Bedford, Massachusetts, fire officials said Wednesday.
Earlier, officials had said that a man was dead, another person was unaccounted for and several other people hurt in the massive blaze on Tuesday. But as workers dug through the wreckage with heavy equipment, they found the body of a person, the Office of the State Fire Marshal. They didn't share the person's identity.
The man who died was Manuel Moreira, a 59-year-old who lived on the fourth floor, the Bristol County District Attorney's Office said Wednesday.
The fire — which broke out at around 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday — tore through the 32-unit building on Acushnet Avenue, and left at least 24 people without a home. Crews on scene Wednesday morning said the building was slated to be knocked down
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When emergency crews arrived, multiple people were hanging out of windows needing to be rescued, New Bedford Fire Chief Scott Kruger said.
“Our sympathies go out to the families and friends and people themselves that occupied this building," Kruger said. "It’s really a tough time for them.”
Witnesses described a horrific scene, including seeing someone who was severely burned jump out of a second-story window.
"It was the most horrific thing I have ever seen," said a woman, who didn't want to give her name.
Holding back tears, displaced resident Jason Gilmore said he had a pit in his stomach as he waited for information about how other tenants were faring while also trying to figure out what comes next.
The size of the building and fire conditions made it difficult for first responders to determine who needed to be rescued first.
“It’s tough on them mentally," Kruger said. "You’re looking at this – OK, who am I going to grab and have to search for a victim and then you’re going in there to retrieve that person.”
In an update late Tuesday, New Bedford officials said that a man died in the fire and that at least five were taken to a hospital, two of whom were in very serious condition.
Phillip MacDonald said that his brother and his brother's girlfriend lived in one of the building's units, right next to where the fire started.
“When I got here, there was flames coming out of the second floor going up to the third and the balcony, facing west, the second floor was totally engulfed," MacDonald said.
Around 80 firefighters responded to the fire, with other local agencies coming to assist.
The investigation into the cause of the fire continued Wednesday, as community members step in to help the residents displaced.