PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As the community mourns the death of firefighter Lt. Matthew LeTorneau in Saturday’s tragic North Philadelphia blaze, investigators were back out on scene Sunday trying to figure out what went wrong.
Philadelphia’s crime scene and ATF investigators combed through the charred remains of the Colorado Street home searching for answers.
“Flames were crazy, just busting out of the window,” said neighbor Melvin Carter. “I’ve never seen anything like that in my life.”
Carter lives just across the street, and was awaken by the smell of smoke.
“I just hurried up, put my clothes on, and knocking on people’s doors though, and trying to get them out, because I know it can spread,” he said. “I wish I could have gone in the house, but there was nothing I could do. I wish I could have but there was nothing I could do.
Carter says the man who lived inside was a longtime resident on the block.
“Always out, always friendly, speaking to everyone,” he said. “The whole neighborhood knew him, everyone knew him.”
The victim’s name has not yet been released.
Kotiiri Newby has been friends with the victim for more than 30 years.
“He would get up real early and walk his mom to the bus stop as she would go to work,” she said. “I was just shocked. It’s just tragic, and I pray for the fireman too who lost his life.”
That firefighter, who would have celebrated 11 years on the job this week, was Lt. Matthew LeTorneau.
Delaware County EMT Jason Thompson worked with LeTorneau had this to say about him:
“He really cared about people,” he said. “There was always a bigger picture thing with Matt, but he was very subtle about that. He wanted no credit about anything, he just wanted to be the guy behind the scenes.”
In response to the loss of Lt. LeTorneau the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 22 issued a statement Sunday that read:
“Matt’s service to our city did not end yesterday. It will continue on every time we use the knowledge he shared with us, in order to help the people of Philadelphia. We are better firefighters for having known you. RIP Matt and may God bless your family, friends and loved ones.”
Funeral arrangements for both victims are still being finalized.