For Immediate Release - January 17, 2013

Chelmsford Fatal Fire Electrical

State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan and Chelmsford Fire Chief Michael F. Curran said the cause of the January 5, 2013 fatal fire at the Woodcrest Condominiums, 181 Littleton Road, was accidental. Investigators have determined that the most probable cause of the fire was an extension cord underneath the fold-out couch.

The fire took the lives of Susan Astle, 67, and Paul Deslauriers, 77, who lived in the apartment. A 7-year old boy was injured in the fire and is being treated in a Boston hospital. Twenty-one apartments were destroyed by the fire and 31 people were displaced by the fire.

Curran said, “Sadly, this fire took two lives and forever altered so many others. Fire moves incredibly fast and the foam in our furniture and plastics in our homes give off toxic fumes that give us a short window to respond to the smoke alarm and use our escape plan.”

Coan said, “This fire occurred on a weekend when four Massachusetts residents lost their lives in three separate fires. These tragedies underscore the value of fire sprinklers which could have altered the outcome of each one. No one thinks fire will happen to them, but practicing good fire prevention is key to reducing the chance it might.” The Chelmsford building was not required to have a complete sprinkler system when it was built, but would be were it built today.

Investigation Team

The fire was jointly investigated by State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal and to Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone’s Office, members of the Chelmsford Fire Department and of the Chelmsford Police Department, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The ATF frequently joins the investigation team on significant fire losses. Assistance was received from the Code Compliance Unit of the Office of the State Fire Marshal and an electrical inspector.