Nursing Home Fire Search Warrant Issued

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Police said Thursday that they had obtained a search warrant for a nursing home where a fire killed 10 people, and investigators were hoping to question a 23-year-old resident.

Officers detained the woman hours after the fire broke out Wednesday at Greenwood Health Center, police Lt. Michael Manzi said. But police Chief Bruce Marquis said the woman was undergoing medical care and ``thus deemed not stable at this moment.''

The fire swept through part of the single-story brick building before dawn, and nurses and rescue workers hauled more than 130 patients into the frigid outdoor air on stretchers, wheelchairs and beds.

The administrative warrant was obtained Wednesday night, police said. Investigators ``have not determined a cause or origin'' for the fire, Marquis said. ``We're going to interview a lot of folks.''

Fourteen people remained hospitalized Thursday, including five in critical condition.

Crime-scene tape draped the fire-blackened portion of the building, and family members were being told to call ahead if they wanted to visit the center Thursday.

Francisco Rivera, 48, tried to bring in a breakfast for his parents, who are both patients. He said he was turned away.

``I don't sleep last night,'' Rivera said. ``I wish I could go in there and kiss her. She's my mom.''

A nursing supervisor at the home who would not give her name said she did not know about anyone being turned away.

The 148 patients at the home included the elderly, mentally handicapped and a young man who had been in a coma for three years. Mayor Eddie Perez said the facility also handled younger psychiatric patients.

The mayor said a nursing supervisor, three nurses and eight nurses' aides were on duty when the fire erupted.

The night timing and single-digit temperatures made the blaze the worst many firefighters had seen.

``You know that no one is going to be a position to rescue themselves,'' Fire Capt. Terry Waller said.

Marcia McCrorey said her mother, 64-year-old Phyllis Kendall, has been a resident of the home for 11 years. Her mother was partially paralyzed because of spinal meningitis.

McCrorey said her mother called her after the fire.

``She said, `I smelled smoke and I started screaming for somebody to come get me, come get me,''' McCrorey said. She said her mother heard fire doors closing and began to weep.

Family members flooded the facility's parking lot in the hours after the fire, peering into the home's windows in hopes of spotting loved ones. After several hours, Debbie and Donald Duford finally found her 53-year-old brother, Bill Carroll, a mentally retarded man with a lung ailment.

``We expected the worst, but reminded ourselves that he was ambulatory,'' she said. ``He said he wasn't scared.''

Luis Henriquez held a silver-framed school photo of his 17-year-old son, who had been in a coma for three years.

``One of the ministers told me he didn't make it,'' he said.

Daniel Henriquez was among the eight victim names released by the city Wednesday evening.

Fire Marshal William Abbott said there was no sprinkler system in the building, but said it was up to code and fire extinguishers were present. He said it was not clear whether the building had a ``grandfathered'' exemption from sprinkler requirements or was exempt from them because of its layout or occupancy.