For Immediate Release - September 28, 2017

Elderly Melrose Woman Died in Cooking Fire

State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey, Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan, Melrose Fire Chief Christopher J. Leary and Melrose Police Chief Michael L. Lyle said the cause of yesterday’s fatal fire was cooking. The fire took the life of a 101-year old woman who lived at 85 Grove Street in Melrose. The stove top fire spread to the kitchen countertops and ignited the woman’s clothing. The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office will release the identity once formal identification has been concluded by the Medical Examiner’s Office.

Chief Leary said, “This is a sad end to a long vibrant life and the fire department offers their condolences to the woman’s family.”

State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said, “There have been 38 fire deaths in Massachusetts so far this year. Two have been elderly women who died in cooking fires.”

Members of the Melrose Fire and Police Departments, State Police assigned to both the Office of the State Fire Marshal’s Office and to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office investigated the fire. Assistance was received from the Department of Fire Services’ Code Compliance and Enforcement Unit.

Cooking is the leading cause of fires in the home. The Department of Fire Services has a cooking fire safety campaign with two key messages: “stand by your pan” to prevent cooking fires and “put a lid on it” to extinguish cooking fires. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of residential fires so it is important to stay in the kitchen when cooking.

There were no working smoke alarms in the 2-family home; batteries were either missing or disconnected. It is impossible to say if working smoke alarms would have made a difference given that the fire ignited the woman’s clothing.