Air Conditioner Caused Fatal Ludlow Fire
State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey, Ludlow Fire Chief Ryan M. Pease, and Ludlow Police Chief Paul Madera announced the cause of yesterday’s fatal fire at 68 Newbury Street in Ludlow was an electrical fire in an air conditioner. The fire claimed the lives of three adults believed to be residents of the home. District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni’s Office will release the victims’ names once the Medical Examiner’s Office has formally identified the victims and next of kin have been notified.
The room-style air conditioner was in the living room located at the opposite end of the ranch-style home from the bedrooms. There was a working combination carbon monoxide and smoke alarm in the basement. The smoke alarm outside the bedrooms was so damaged by the fire it is not possible to say if it was working. It did have a battery in it, but witnesses and first arriving firefighters did not hear any smoke alarms sounding.
The Ludlow Fire Department, the Ludlow Police Department and State Police assigned to both the Office of the State Fire Marshal and to the Hampden District Attorney’s Office jointly investigated this fire. Assistance was received from electrical experts and the Code Compliance Unit of the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
Fire Chief Pease said, “On behalf of the Ludlow Fire Department I want to offer my condolences to the family of the fire victims. Firefighters responded and removed the victims quickly in an attempt to save them, but by the time the alarm came in, the house was already filled with toxic black smoke.”
State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said, “In today’s homes, we have only about 1-3 minutes to escape before being overcome by the toxic smoke of burning furnishings made from plastics and synthetics. Working smoke alarms are your first line of defense in a fire and when coupled with an escape plan can double your chances of escaping. However, this fire may be one where only fire sprinklers could have made the difference between life and death.”
Fire sprinklers are not required in newly built one- and two-family homes in Massachusetts unless they are larger than 12,000 square feet. Sprinklers are required in new homes with three or more units.