State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan, Fitchburg Fire Chief Kevin Roy and Acting Fitchburg Police Chief Philip Kearns have concluded their investigation into the cause of the March 31 fatal fire at 53 East St., Fitchburg.
The cause of the fire was improper disposal of smoking materials. The fire took the lives of two victims who were asleep on the second floor, a 22-year old man and a 39-year old woman. A 63-year old man sleeping on the first floor was hospitalized with injuries from the fire.
Coan said, "There have been 16 civilian and two firefighter deaths so far in Massachusetts this year. The one common theme among them has been a lack of working smoke alarms that can double the chances of surviving a fire." The code compliance investigation showed no evidence of any working smoke or carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in the residence.
Chief Roy said, "This fire is a terrible tragedy for this family and on behalf of the city of Fitchburg I offer our deepest sympathies." He added, "Firefighters train hard to fight fires and effect rescues, but they really need some help from the citizens they protect. In addition to having working smoke and CO alarms on every level of your home, anyone who sees any sign of fire, please call 9-1-1 immediately." There was a delay before anyone called the fire department.
The fire was jointly investigated by the Fitchburg Fire Department, Fitchburg Police Department, State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal and to Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr's office. Assistance was received from the Code Compliance Unit of the Office of the state Department of Fire Services.
Massachusetts Fires Caused by Smoking Materials
In Massachusetts during 2012, 1,977 fires were caused by smoking including: 585 building fires, 31 motor vehicle fires, and 1,361 outside and other fires. These fires caused four civilian deaths, 39 civilian injuries, 48 firefighter injuries and an estimated $19.3 in property damage.