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Press Release Cambridge Fatal Fire Accidental

Fire Prevention Week Tragedy Underscores Need for Working Smoke Alarms
For immediate release:
10/08/2020
  • Department of Fire Services
  • Cambridge Fire Department

Media Contact for Cambridge Fatal Fire Accidental

Jennifer Mieth, Public Information Officer

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CAMBRIDGECambridge Fire Chief Gerard E. Mahoney, Cambridge Police Commissioner Branville G. Bard Jr., Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey announced that the cause of the October 7, 2020 fatal fire at 34 Buckingham Street in Cambridge is accidental. The fire was reported by neighbors at 5:22 a.m. and went to 3-alarms. A woman, believed to be the sole resident of the single family home, was rescued by firefighters but she later succumbed to her injuries at a local hospital. Three firefighters were treated and released from a local hospital for injuries.

The identity of the victim will be released by the Office of Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan after formal identification by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and notification of next of kin.

The fire originated in a second floor bedroom. The damage to the home was extensive. An electric blanket was found on the floor, plugged in. An extension cord was plugged into a wall air conditioner. An electrical malfunction of the blanket, the extension cord or the outlet are possible causes of the fire. The resident also often used candles in her room and that cannot be eliminated as a possible cause. There is no indication that the fire was intentionally set. Because there are several possible causes that cannot be ruled out, the fire will remain officially undetermined but considered accidental.

Chief Mahoney said, “On behalf of the city of Cambridge and our firefighters, I want to offer my deepest condolences to the family of the victim. This tragic fire occurred in the middle of Fire Prevention Week, where we ask everyone to test their smoke alarms and make sure that they are less than 10 years old. Having working smoke alarms and practicing a home escape plan can greatly increase your chances of surviving a fire.”

First arriving firefighters did not hear smoke alarms sounding and none were found in the debris. It appears the fire had been burning for a while before it broke out of the windows and was noticed by neighbors.

State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said, “If you have a hearing impairment or have developed a hearing loss, consider installing alarms with lights and bed shakers. There are many adaptive alarm systems available that work in conjunction with the smoke alarms required in Massachusetts homes.”

The fire was jointly investigated by members of the Cambridge Fire and Police Departments and State Police assigned to both the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Office of the Middlesex District Attorney. Assistance was received from the Department of Fire Services Code Compliance Unit and the State Police Crime Scene Services.

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Media Contact for Cambridge Fatal Fire Accidental

Department of Fire Services 

The Department of Fire Services helps keep communities safe. We provide firefighter training, public education, fire prevention, code enforcement, licensing, fire investigation, hazardous material response, and emergency response.

Cambridge Fire Department

Chief Gerard E. Mahoney
Cambridge Fire Department
(617) 349-4970

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