Barre Fatal Fire Electrical
State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan and Barre Fire Chief Joseph A. Rogowski announced that the January 24, 2013 fatal fire at 9-11 Trafalgar Square was electrical. The fire took the life of 90-year old Josephine Masulaitis who had lived in the home for decades.
The kitchen light fixture was not properly wired in place which led to resistive heating over time that eventually ignited nearby combustible materials. In 2011, electrical fires were the leading cause of fire deaths in Massachusetts causing 34% of fatal fires in homes.
Chief Rogowski said, “There were no smoke alarms or carbon monoxide alarms in the home. Smoke alarms give people precious minutes to escape fire which moves incredibly fast.” While smoke alarms are required in all Massachusetts homes, the enforcement mechanism is usually an inspection upon sale or transfer of a home. Since this home had been in the same family since 1951, no sale or transfer had ever triggered an inspection that would have required the installation of smoke alarms.
State Fire Marshal Coan said, “There have been an alarming number of fire deaths in Massachusetts this January; I urge everyone to use extreme caution: make sure smoke alarms are working; have a practiced home escape plan; and practice fire safety with heating and electrical equipment, in the kitchen, and when smoking.”
The fire was jointly investigated by members of the Barre Fire and Police Departments, State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal and to the Office of the Worcester District Attorney’s Office. Assistance was received from an electrical expert and the Code Compliance Unit in the Office of the State Fire Marshal.