Monroe Fire Department spokesman Kevin Catalano said occupants of the house at 43 Osborne Lane made an emergency 911 call about a kitchen fire growing out of control at around 8:50 a.m., and a neighbor also called after seeing smoke and fire at the ranch-style house.
Fred Rice was trapped inside a bedroom in his burning home and the first police officer on the scene made several attempts to get to him before being driven back by the smoke and fire, according to Catalano.
Firefighters who entered the home were able to pull Rice out, with three suffering burns due to the intense heat and a ceiling collapse, Catalano said, adding another firefighter trying to access a rear window fell through the fire-weakened deck.
None of the firefighters required hospitalization.
Monroe EMS and paramedics immediately began CPR on Rice, but he later died at Bridgeport Hospital from injuries sustained in the fire.
"Two other adults were in the home when the fire began," Catalano said. "One of them, a female, was also treated at the hospital for smoke inhalation, but her injuries were not life threatening."
It took firefighters about 25 minutes to get the blaze under control with the last crews leaving the scene at around 2 p.m.
Catalano said, "The house is gutted and not habitable. The fire and smoke were extremely intense. It was made worse when a propane tank ignited on the rear deck just as fire crews arrived."
The Red Cross is assisting the three remaining residents who were living there with alternative housing, according to Catalano.
A total of 40 volunteer firefighters were on scene from Monroe, Stevenson, Stepney and White Hills, manning five engines, two ladder trucks, a tanker and a rescue truck. Chief William Davin was the incident commander. Sandy Hook and Long Hill provided coverage.
The Monroe Fire Marshal's Office, Connecticut State Fire Marshal's Office and Monroe police were on scene to determine the cause, which remains under investigation.
'A Very Nice Man'
Natalie Somley, a longtime neighbor of Frederick Rice, confirmed that Rice died from injuries sustained in a fire at his home at 43 Osborne Lane Sunday morning.
"He was a very nice man," she said. "He would always stop and talk to you. When me and my husband were outside we'd chat. Fred was a nice neighbor."
Somley said a man, who was a friend of Rice's family was staying with him, then Somley allowed the man's parents from Hawaii to move in.
"Fred was so kind to open his home to let his parents move in with him and now they have nothing," Somley said.
She said the man and his parents are staying with the Red Cross and that her husband donated some of his belongings. Neighbors are currently looking into starting a fundraiser for the survivors.