Michael Dwyer, Fire Chief
Public Safety Building
401 Main St.
West Newbury, MA 01985
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Contact: John Guilfoil
West Newbury Fatal Fire Electrical, No Evidence of Working Smoke Alarms
State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey and West Newbury Fire Chief Michael Dwyer announced the cause of the March 8, 2016 fatal fire at 33 Meetinghouse Hill Road in West Newbury was electrical. The fire took the life of an elderly man, believed to be the homeowner. Positive identification will be made by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and released by the Office of Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett. Three firefighters were injured and transported to a local hospital.
The fire originated in the basement of the single family home. The neutral wire for the electrical service had become disconnected and is the most probable cause of the fire. Damages are estimated at $500,000. A disconnected electrical service wire should be reported immediately to the local utility.
In 2014, electrical fires were the leading cause of fire deaths in Massachusetts. Eight fatal fires took the lives of 15 people. Fire officials recommend having a licensed electrician review your home’s electrical system every ten years. Small upgrades and simple safety checks can prevent larger problems. For a detailed guide to protecting your home from electrical fires, go to the Department of Fire Services website (www.mass.gov/dfs) and search for Electrical Safety.
No Evidence of Working Smoke Alarms
“Sadly, there was no evidence of working smoking alarms in the home,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey, “There have been 19 fire deaths so far in 2016 and in a significant majority of these tragedies, there have been no working smoke alarms.”
Chief Dwyer said, “Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the family. As we change our clocks this weekend, I would ask people to make sure they have working smoke alarms in their own homes and their parents’ homes and that they are less than ten years old.” Smoke alarms need to be replaced after ten years. He added, “West Newbury seniors who need help maintaining their smoke alarms can contact the fire department at (978) 363-1120.”
The fire was jointly investigated by the West Newbury Fire Department and State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal and to the Office of the Essex District Attorney. Assistance was received from the Code Compliance Unit in the Department of Fire Services.