Woodstove Caused Fatal Warwick Fire
State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey, Warwick Fire Chief Ronald P. Gates and Warwick Police Chief David Shoemaker said Saturday’s fatal fire at 405 Richmond Road in Warwick started as a woodstove fire that extended to the structure itself. Five members of the family, Lucinda Seago and four children ages 7, 9, 12, and 15, perished in the fire according to Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan. Her husband and one child managed to escape.
The fire started in the kitchen on the first floor where the woodstove ignited nearby combustibles.
State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said, “Last weekend seven people died in two heating related fires. It will be cold again this weekend and I urge everyone to keep safety in mind while trying to keep warm.”
Chief Gates said, “This is a small community of neighbors helping neighbors and our hearts are heavy with the loss the Seago family has suffered.” The single family home was fully engulfed in fire by the time firefighters first arrived.
Ostroskey said, “No one expects to have a fire. It is so important to have working smoke and CO alarms on every level, and to have a home escape plan with two ways out of every room and a meeting place outside, and to practice it.”
Fire officials urge residents to have their furnaces and chimneys cleaned at the start of every heating season by licensed professionals. A chimney sweep can also look for cracked and broken mortar inside the chimney that allows heat to escape and over time start a fire. Keep combustibles like newspapers, kindling and extra wood 3-feet away from the wood stove.
The home was located on a narrow dirt road on which no two fire trucks could pass each other. Responding firefighters shuttled water in their pumpers from a pond about 1/3 of mile away to the home and then continued in a one-way loop through New Hampshire to return to the pond in a circuit that took about 45 minutes. The sub-zero temperatures froze equipment making the shuttle more difficult. Mutual aid was received from sixteen fire departments and two EMS companies from Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. Chief Gates said, “I know the men and women of the Warwick Fire Department and the mutual aid companies fought this fire with everything they had.”
The fire was jointly investigated by the Warwick Fire and Police Departments and State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal and to the Office of Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan. Assistance was received from the Code Compliance & Enforcement Unit in the Department of Fire Services and the State Police Crime Scene Services Unit.
For more heating safety tips visit www.mass.gov/keepwarmkeepsafe.