For Immediate Release - February 13, 2014

February 13, 2014 - Electric Baseboard Heater Ignited Cambridge Fatal Fire

State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan, Cambridge Fire Chief Gerald R. Reardon and Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert C. Hass said the cause of yesterday morning’s fatal fire at 240 Prospect Street was ignited by an electric baseboard heater. Either the heater itself malfunctioned, electrical wiring to the heater failed, or combustibles on top of the heater caught fire.

One person died in the fire and is believed to be a woman in her 50s who was a guest of the apartment’s tenant. The identify of the victim will be released by District Attorney Marian Ryan’s office once next of kin have been notified.

Chief Reardon said, “A fire death is a terrible tragedy for the friends and family and the community as a whole. All of the smoke alarms we found inside the apartment where the fire occurred, and many others throughout the building,were disconnected or without a battery. A working smoke alarm coupled with an escape plan can double one’s chances of surviving a fire.”

State Fire Marshal Coan said, “This is the sixth fire death so far this year in Massachusetts. Take a minute to make sure all your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working and to discuss a plan with the family that includes two ways out of where you live and a meeting place out front.”

The fire caused an estimated $400,000 in damage to the building and $50,000 damage to the building next door at 238 Prospect Street. Seven people are displaced.

The fire was jointly investigated by the Cambridge Fire Department, Cambridge Police Department, State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal and to Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan’s office. Assistance was received from an electrical expert, State Police Crime Scene Services, and the Code Compliance Unit of the Department of Fire Services. Chief Reardon added “The collaboration among the various investigative agencies was outstanding.”