Home Fire News Update: Everything we know about the house rigged to explode, injuring 9...

Update: Everything we know about the house rigged to explode, injuring 9 police officers

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Jessica Lerner
New Haven Register, Conn.
NORTH HAVEN — The remains of a body were found Thursday morning following an explosion at a North Haven residence, according to Connecticut State Trooper First Class Kelly Grant.

Grant said the body has not been identified, and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death.

A source said a woman had been held against her will and managed to escape after a man had left the premises. She then went to the police station and was treated there. She had significant injuries on her face, the source said.

While state police are investigating the cause and origin of the explosion, a source said preliminary indications are it was intentionally set off. “They were saying it was enough that it was felt everywhere,” the source said.

Nine officers — five from East Haven, three from North Haven and one from Branford — were injured in the explosion and were taken to Yale New Haven Hospital. Their condition is currently labeled as “fair.”

“This impacted not only the North Haven Police Department, not only our community, but this is a far-reaching incident to the other communities that serve the South Central Region,” Deputy North Haven Police Chief Jonathan Mulhern said.

“North Haven was obviously called to the scene (Wednesday) afternoon. They initiated the investigation, which led us to where we are right now, to where we are today,” Grant said. “As they continue to investigate, not only the scene itself, which is a very big piece of it right now, they’re investigating that original complaint, also.”

Police maintained a presence at the scene into Thursday morning. Quinnipiac Avenue was closed early Thursday between Pentway Lane and McArthur Road. Fire Chief Paul Januszewski said firefighters are continuing to extinguish the fire, as a number of structures and other items in the backyard are still burning.

Januszewski said utilities and traffic will remain affected for the next few hours, and buses have been rerouted.

Police had been called to the residence at 385 Quinnipiac Ave. Wednesday to respond to a domestic violence report. Property records show Deborah Sayre owns the house, and judicial records state a Deborah Sayre, who lives at the address, filed for divorce April 18 from a John Sayre, who also lives at the residence.

Upon arriving, police found a man barricaded inside the home, where he had held his wife for the last few days, according to North Haven First Selectman Michael Freda.

The North Haven Fire Department pre-deployed apparatuses and resources to manage the incident effectively, Januszewski said.

Officers attempted to coax the man out of the home, but were not successful.

While SWAT was active on the scene, there was an explosion in a barn behind the home, injuring officers, Freda said. They sustained cuts, abrasions and potential concussions and were taken to Yale New Haven Hospital for treatment.

“Our hearts go out to the brave first responders who put their lives on the line, and we wish those injured a safe and speedy recovery,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement. “Yesterday’s tragedy serves as a stark reminder that domestic violence is a serious issue that must continue to be addressed and remain at the forefront of the national conversation. If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, please know that you have a voice and there are resources available to help.”

“We are grateful to the emergency workers and first responders who were on the scene last night and today,” said Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman in a statement. “For those who were injured in the line of duty, you have our deepest appreciation for having put your lives on the line for your community. I applaud the woman who reported this incident; she showed tremendous bravery and courage. Her actions may have saved lives, including her own.”

Several residents of the North Haven neighborhood reported hearing the explosion, with many commenting on the Police Department’s Facebook page that they heard it as well.

Dennis Walsh, of Detroit, Mich., who was visiting his parents house on Pentway Lane, said after 8 p.m. that he felt the entire house shake. At first, he thought something had happened to the house, but when he went outside, he saw huge orange flames and giant plumes of black smoke.

He said a procession of emergency vehicles and first responders had already arrived — police cars had been camped in front of his parents’ house since 3 p.m., he said — and police told him to get back in the house.

David DiMartino, who lives around the corner from Quinnipiac Avenue, said he heard an explosion just as it was getting dark.

“I felt my house shake,” DiMartino said. “It felt like a bomb went off in my attic.”

Rick Simeone said he also heard an explosion at about the same time. As he stood on the street, watching the response, he said, “We’re just kind of observing what these guys are doing.”

Nancy Sundwall said she was on Turner Avenue when the explosion happened and she saw flames and smoke rising from the area.

“North Haven shook. I mean, everyone heard it,” Sundwall said. “The whole sky turned pitch black with smoke.”

“This is like a puzzle. You’re going to take all these little pieces. You’re going to speak with victims, you’re going to speak with witnesses, you’re going to speak with any potential witnesses. You’re going to bring all of this together with the evidence to come to one conclusion,” Grant said.

jessica.lerner@hearstmediact.com; @jesslerner on Twitter

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