Upon closer inspection they found it was just the one car — he said it looked like a sedan — that was split in half.
The tree was not on fire and the car had traveled maybe 100 more feet, he said.
Of the five units to respond, each was from Newport: two engines, a truck, a medic unit and a battalion chief.
It took four or five minutes to put the fire out and make sure it was completely extinguished because of possible oil or gas leak.
The fifth passenger who was alive at the scene was attended to quickly. NBFD Paramedics were able to get the patient off-scene within a few minutes.
That patient, he said, was "completely ejected and laying on the pavement," so they were able to move them quickly.
"I've been on duty for almost 30 years, and I've seen some terrible vehicular accidents," he said. "This was, if not the worst, one of the worst I've ever seen."
He added that, "you had poor guys up there who had only been on a couple years."
The timing of the tragedy, a national holiday, wasn't lost on the veteran firefighter.
"Now Memorial Day for those families won't be just Memorial Day any more," and that any time such tragedies occur on holidays, it makes for an extra painful reminder for families.