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Death Toll in Nursing Home Fire Climbs

March 02, 2003|From Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. — The death toll has risen to 11 in a nursing home blaze reportedly started by a patient who set her bedsheets on fire.

John Shack, who had been a resident at Greenwood Health Center, died at Hartford Hospital late Friday, two days after the fire.

Nearly two dozen residents were injured and 10 remained hospitalized Saturday, with four in critical condition.

One man who died in the blaze, 76-year-old Angel Diaz, had gone back into the burning building after pushing Juan Rodriguez to safety in a wheelchair, the Hartford Courant reported Saturday.

"Mr. Diaz is a hero," said Rodriguez's daughter-in-law, Marisol Rodriguez. "He died a hero."

Juan Rodriguez was among the patients in critical condition.

Investigators interviewed a 23-year-old patient believed to have started the blaze, but had not determined whether the fire was set.

The nursing home, built in 1969, was up to code, according to the city fire marshal, even though most of the one-story building lacked sprinklers.

On Saturday, nearly 400 friends and family gathered in Hartford to remember one of the victims, 70-year-old Hermangildo "Gildo" Pereira.

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