Death toll rises as second body is recovered from rubble of New Bedford fire, officials say

A second body has been recovered from the scene of a massive building fire in New Bedford as officials continue to investigate the cause of Tuesday’s inferno that injured several other people.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office says the second victim was recovered on Wednesday while crews used heavy equipment to examine the damaged building. That victim’s name has not been released.

The first victim, Manuel Moreira, 59, resided in a fourth floor unit in the Acushnet Avenue building, the district attorney’s office said.

“On behalf of the New Bedford Fire Department, I want to express our heartfelt condolences to Mr. Moreira’s family and loved ones,” said Chief Scott Kruger. “It was deeply important to all of us at the scene that we recover him with respect and dignity as soon as it was possible to do so.”

Crews remained on scene on Wednesday as investigators searched the area, and allowed firefighters to get to any remaining hot spots under collapsed sections.

Fire officials received a fire alarm activation at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday for 1305 Acushnet Ave.

When firefighters arrived, they found heavy smoke and fire showing with multiple residents in windows needing to be rescued, and other residents jumping out of windows to escape the fire.

A handful of other people were injured in the massive fire that tore through the Royal Crown Lodging, a 31-unit building at 1305 Acushnet Ave.

Five people were sent to a local hospital; one of the injured is in serious condition and another man was sent to another hospital in critical condition, fire officials said.

Using ground ladders, firefighters rescued five residents from the windows of the building.

At least 70 firefighters from neighboring towns helped battle the fire. Drones were used for thermal imaging and to search for victims and assess damages.

Multiple crews search simultaneously on multiple floors while stretching hose lines into the building. Firefighting conditions “deteriorated rapidly, with interior stairways becoming unstable, and interior crews were removed from the building and a defensive fire attack was initiated,” the Fire Department said.

The rooming-house-style building contains 31 apartments. American Red Cross assisted at least two dozen residents. A temporary shelter was set up at Seven Hills located on Acushnet Avenue for the fire victims.

“The Department commends Group D for their skill and relentless efforts conducting search/rescue and fire extinguishment at this difficult scene. Thank you to Fire Chaplain Father Michael Racine, Reverend David Lima, NBEMS, NBPD, NBEMS for your support, it is appreciated,” the Fire Department said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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