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Press Release Cause of Great Barrington Fatal Fire Undetermined

Accidental Ignition by Smoking Materials is Focus of Investigation
For immediate release:
  • Department of Fire Services

Media Contact for Cause of Great Barrington Fatal Fire Undetermined

Jennifer Mieth, Public Information Officer

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Great BarringtonState Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey, Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington, and Great Barrington Fire Chief Charles Burger said that the cause of the December 9, 2019 fire at 24 Silver Street #8E in Great Barrington will officially remain undetermined, though the focus of the investigation was on an accidental ignition caused by smoking materials. The fire took the lives of Michael Romano, age 68, and Susan Romano, age 67.

Firefighters were confronted with heavy smoke and fire when they arrived at the unit, which is part of a building that also houses seven (7) other apartments. They were able to knock the fire down quickly and found two unresponsive occupants. While one occupant was resuscitated at the scene, she passed away the following day at the hospital.

“The Berkshire District Attorney’s Office sends our deepest condolences to the Romano family. I thank the Great Barrington Fire Department for their fast response and knock down of the fire but I am terribly saddened by the outcome,” District Attorney Andrea Harrington said.

Investigators were able to rule out electrical events and all other potential ignition sources in the area of origin except for the improper disposal of smoking materials as the cause of this fire. A smoke detector was present in the hallway just outside the bedroom in which the fire began, but it did not alarm. Due to damage caused during the fire, investigators were unable to identify the reason it did not alarm.

“On behalf of the town of Great Barrington, I offer our heartfelt condolences to their family. Every fire death is tragic, but the loss cuts deeper during the holidays,” said Chief Burger. “Events like these are terribly difficult reminders that everyone needs to have working smoke alarms in their home,” he added.

“Working smoke alarms are the best tools we have available to prevent fire fatalities,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. “It is critically important to test them every month and replace the batteries at least once a year,” he added. For more information on protecting your family and home with smoke detectors, visit:

This fire was jointly investigated by members of the Great Barrington Fire and Police Departments, Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington’s Office, and State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal. State Police Crime Scene Services and the Department of Fire Services’ Code Compliance Unit provided assistance.


Media Contact for Cause of Great Barrington Fatal Fire Undetermined

Department of Fire Services 

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