An 8-year-old boy, Elijah Ziolkowski, in Meriden, Connecticut is dead following a suspicious house fire, and his mother remains in critical condition at a local hospital, according to the NBC Connecticut.
At around 7:15 a.m. on Monday, November 14, the Meriden Fire Department arrived at a home on Davis Street near its intersection with Parker Avenue South after receiving a call about the house being engulfed in flames.
Recent reports indicated that firefighters pulled a mother – Karin Ziolkowski, 40, and her son out of the house fire.
Paramedics rushed the mother and son, who suffered from smoke inhalation, to a local hospital, where the mother remains in critical condition.
Elijah was unable to be saved after being pulled from the house fire, and he died just shortly after arriving at the hospital.
Investigators say the fire was intentional, but circumstances leading up to their conclusion has not been released.
Meriden police did say, however, that “they are focusing on a bedroom where there was extensive fire damage, and there is an active arson investigation.”
An eyewitness, Ana Roman, who lives in the area stated that “there were flames coming out of this window and the window there, big flames. She said she later “saw the firefighters breaking the door, then I saw a little boy, he’s like 7 or 8 years old, was taken down on a stretcher and so I ran.”
Another neighbor, Bryan Charlton, who said he had awakened to the smell of smoke and realized that someone’s house was on fire. “It was a crazy, chaotic scene here this morning,” he said. “Someone in the house smelled it and they came running into my room because my window has the view of the house.”
Sergeant Darrin McKay stated that “at this time our investigation has been officially deemed to be an active arson investigation. As to the circumstances which led the Fire Marshall to determine that this was a case of arson; unfortunately, I cannot discuss this at this time as to do so could potentially jeopardize the investigation.”
“As the investigation progresses and I am able to divulge more information, I will certainly do so.”
Following the deadly house fire, Israel Putnam Elementary School — where Ziolkowski was a third-grade student — sent a message to all of the parents, informing them that the boy had died.
“We are deeply saddened and our hearts go out to the family,” the message stated. “Please know that we will have counselors and support staff ready to assist any students who may need support.”
School administrators remember Elijah as a “little boy with a big personality.”
The school principal, Enza Adamcewicz, stated that the boy was a “bubbly kid. You know, loves Star Wars, Legos. You know, a normal 8-year-old boy. He was very social. Everybody knew him, knew of him. Big personality and he will be greatly missed.”
In a statement, Supt. Mark D. Benigni said “The Meriden Public Schools faced a terrible tragedy this morning as a house fire took the life of an 8-year-old student who was in the third grade at Israel Putnam School.”
“Our hearts go out to the family. Additional support staff will be on hand tomorrow to offer assistance to our students and staff.”
A GoFundMe page was created to help the “family as they mourn their loss and try to pick up the pieces of the tragic event that occurred on Monday,” according to the site. “No parent should ever have to go through this.”
Thus far, the family has received nearly $100,000 in donations.
If you have any information regarding the suspicious house fire, you are urged to contact Meriden police at 203-630-6233.
[Featured Image by David McKnew/Getty Images]