New Canaan man killed in Marist fire
Woodbridge woman also among victims
A New Canaan man and Woodbridge woman were among three people killed by a fire that tore through a private home in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., being rented by Marist College students near campus early Saturday morning, authorities said.
Kevin Johnson, 20, who graduated from New Canaan High School, was identified by friends as one of the victims of the fire. Johnson was not a Marist student. Eva Block, a 21-year-old Marist College student from Woodbridge, died of smoke inhalation, Poughkeepsie police told the Poughkeepsie Journal. The third victim was identified by the Journal as Marist student Kerry Fitzsimons, of Commack, N.Y.
Johnson's funeral will be held Friday at 11 a.m. at St. Aloysius Church in New Canaan. Services for Block are to be held at 1 p.m. Monday at Abraham L. Green and Son Funeral Home in Fairfield, the Journal reported.
New Canaan High School graduate Jonathan Marvin grew up with Johnson.
"Kevin was a major part of my childhood. I will never forget the good times we shared together. I will truly never forget about my good friend Kevin Johnson," he said. "He was a fun kid I always had a good time when I was around him."
When they were younger, Johnson, Marvin and some friends had a skateboard group.
"Kevin was always the one everyone looked up to," Marvin said.
"He was the leader of our group. He always was laughing and telling crazy stories. He was always happy and nothing ever seemed to bother him. Now that we are all in college, we all seemed to lose contact with each other. But whenever we all got home for break, we would all meet up down town New Canaan and talk about the good old days back in middle school and high school.
"Things just will not be the same without him. I just cannot imagine going back to New Canaan seeing everyone knowing Kevin is not around," Marvin said. "The times we shared together will never be forgotten. There really isn't a good way to for me to describe Kevin. He was a one of a kind."
"It never makes sense; you never get used to people losing their life right in the prime of life. Kevin had an enormous amount of potential and it's sad we won't have an opportunity to see that," Pavia said.
Pavia said Johnson was known in the New Canaan community as an avid skateboarder.
"He would often skateboard around (school) property," Pavia said. "I would go out and watch him. He was a very nice young man and he was a unique individual. He would not follow the crowd very much. He was his own person."
Block was born in Bridgeport, the daughter of Jeffrey Block and Barbara Stark Block. Her funeral has been scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday at the Abraham L. Green and Son Funeral Home 88 Beach Road, Fairfield. Burial will follow at Or Shalom Cemetery, Derby-Milford Road in Orange.
Four other people in the house escaped without serious injuries.
Marist College postponed two basketball games "out of respect for the students affected by this tragedy," Deborah DiCaprio, Marist's vice president and dean for student affairs, said in a statement Saturday.
The off-campus house on Fairview Avenue was being rented by six female Marist students, Town Police Chief Thomas Mauro said.
The fire was initially reported by a passer-by who called 911 at about 1:30 a.m., Mauro said. At the time, he said, seven people -- four residents and three male guests, were in the house.
The police chief said the group had gone to bed about an hour before the fire was reported. "There was no issue that they were aware of in the house when they went to bed," he said, basing his comments on interviews with the four survivors.
At least two people jumped through a window to safety after realizing that the house was engulfed in flames, he said.
The first firefighters to respond to the emergency call tried to get into the house, but were forced back by the heat and flames, said Chris Maeder, chief of the Fairview Fire District, one of a handful of agencies that responded to the emergency call.
One victim was found on the second floor of the house, one was downstairs and the third was under "considerable collapsed debris," the police chief said. The four survivors were taken to a hospital, where they were treated and released.
They were treated for minor smoke inhalation and other minor injuries and were able to answer police questions about the fire.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Maeder said the fire is believed to have started in the rear of the first floor.