Massachusetts fire officials say the number of fire fatalities reported so far this year is much higher than usual. In many instances, they say, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors were not functioning.
So far this year, there have been 23 fire deaths in Massachusetts, the average number for three months of the calendar year is 16. State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey said people have one to three minutes to safely escape a house fire and that’s why smoke and carbon monoxide detectors save lives – every second counts.
The state’s first fatal fire occurred on New Year’s Day in Holyoke when an electrical fire broke out in an apartment complex located at 106 North East Street. The source of the fire was traced to a living room wall outlet in a third-floor unit. The building’s fire alarm was not working and three people, Jorge Munoz, Trevor R. Wadleigh and Maria Cartagena, who were on the fourth and fifth floors died.
“In this fire there was a substantial delay from the discovery of the fire to the first 9-1-1 call which allowed the fire to progress significantly. Don’t assume that that fire department has been notified. Always call 9-1-1 as soon as possible,” Holyoke Fire Chief John Pond said in a statement. “In a fire seconds count and time is your enemy; remember to act fast and escape a quickly.”
The fire department should be notified immediately if any of the following warning signs are detected, Ostroskey said: arcs, sparks, short circuits, frequently blown fuses, sizzling or buzzing sounds, unusual odors or the faint smell of something burning.
In February, a boiler explosion in Revere killed Reyes Bertrand, 50, a husband and father of two. The explosion occurred just after 4:30 a.m. on February 15 in a multifamily home located at 785 Revere Beach Parkway. Nine others escaped unharmed. Fire investigators ruled that the explosion was caused by over pressurization.
In total, 52 people were killed in Massachusetts fires in 2016, 62 died in 2015, there were 54 deaths in 2014 and 44 deaths in 2013. Young children and older adults are at higher risk of fire injury and death.