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Press Release Overloaded Power Strip Cause of Fitchburg Fatal Fire

Home had no working smoke alarms
For immediate release:
1/07/2020
  • Department of Fire Services

Media Contact for Overloaded Power Strip Cause of Fitchburg Fatal Fire

Jennifer Mieth, Public Information Officer

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FITCHBURGFitchburg Fire Chief Kevin D. Roy, State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey and Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. said the cause of yesterday’s fatal fire at 14 Highland Avenue in Fitchburg was an overloaded power strip. The fire took the lives of two brothers identified by the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office as brothers, Gregory Wilson, 61, and Franklin Wilson III, 50.

The fire started in a first floor bedroom of the two-family home. Investigators found a lightweight extension cord and a flexible power strip plugged into the outlet. Among the appliances plugged in were a space heater, a cellphone, a lamp, a television, and a computer monitor and processor. It is impossible to say which if any of the appliances caused the overload or if the use of all the appliances together triggered it.

“This is a terribly sad way for Fitchburg to start off the New Year and our hearts go out to the Wilson family,” said Chief Roy. “I would ask anyone else in the city using a space heater to make sure it is plugged directly into the wall outlet not an extension cord or power strip. Remember that space heaters need space and should be three feet from anything that can catch fire,” he added, “and turn them off before going sleep or leaving the house.”

No working smoke alarms were found in the house. “Smoke alarms are your first line of defense in a fire. They can give you time to use your home escape plan,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey.

Chief Roy said, “I want to commend the fast action of our firefighters who quickly  knocked down the heavy fire conditions and were able to remove both victims from the building under extreme smoke, heat and fire conditions.”

The Fitchburg Fire Department, the Fitchburg Police Department, and State Police assigned to both the Office of the State Fire Marshal and to the Office of the Worcester District Attorney jointly investigated this fire. Assistance was received from the Department of Fire Services Code Compliance Unit.

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Media Contact for Overloaded Power Strip Cause of Fitchburg Fatal Fire

Department of Fire Services 

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