Shelton firefighter Chris Jones was leaving the Boys & Girls Club off Howe Avenue at about 5:10 p.m. on Wednesday when he heard a smoke detector going off.
He looked uphill toward a multifamily structure on Howe Avenue and “saw a room glowing orange.”
Jones, an Echo Hose Hook & Ladder Company member, thought perhaps the glow was a colored light, but began running toward the building and soon saw limited smoke emitting from inside.
He dialed emergency dispatch for help, reporting a structure fire, and began banging on doors at the two-and-a-half-story building near Wooster Street North.
Jones was able to help four people evacuate from a second-floor apartment before firefighting crews arrived at the scene.
Michael Boroski, 52, later was found unconscious on the first floor, and died from his injuries at the hospital a few hours later.
Heard noise on second floor
After reaching the house, Jones began banging on exterior doors. “I was running around,” he said of his efforts.
He heard noise from upstairs and headed up a flight of stairs to warn the people inside there.
He was able to help the people get outside, advising them to get inside their vehicle and move the car so it wouldn’t block the firetrucks on the way.
No response on first floor
Jones began banging on the first-floor door again but there was no response. He also ran around back and banged on the door to a basement apartment, but got no answer.
Jones was in street clothes and didn’t have his firefighting gear, so what he could do was limited.
Based on his firefighting training and experience, he was concerned that if he kicked in the first-floor door he could make the situation worse.
“That could fuel the fire, and it could flash at you,” said Jones, who is well known in Shelton from having run for mayor twice in recent years.
Found unconscious man on floor
At this point, the first Shelton fire crews began arriving and Jones did kick the first-floor door to break the lock.
Firefighters dressed in gear went inside, where they found an unconscious man on the floor about 15 feet inside the dwelling.
Jones assisted other firefighters in pulling the man outside, but it appeared he was badly injured.
The victim was treated for serious burn and smoke injuries and rushed to the hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries on Thursday morning.
Recognized the name
The names of some of the people believed to have been living in the building were mentioned at the time, including one that Jones recognized — Michael Boroski.
Jones is familiar with the Boroski family from having grown up in Shelton.
It wasn’t until later that night when he received a phone call that he was certain the person pulled out of the house was Michael Boroski, who is six years younger than Jones.
A trying time
Jones said the experience has been a difficult one, with one person having died. “I’m beating myself up on what-ifs,” he said.
Other firefighters, however, are reassuring him that his actions saved four lives and there was nothing else that could have been done.
Jones said it’s been a trying few weeks for all of Shelton’s firefighters, with the massive Jan. 6 fire on Howe Avenue — just down the street — having destroyed most of a downtown block. No one was injured in the Jan. 6 blaze.
“The last few weeks, the guys at Echo Hose — and the other Shelton departments — have just gone above and beyond,” he said.