NEW BEDFORD, MASS. (WHDH) - A fatal fire that burned through a rooming house in New Bedford on Tuesday started accidentally, fire officials announced.
Investigators determined the fire started in Room 205, located at the left rear of the second floor. They were able to rule out all potential causes except an event involving a microwave in that location or the wall outlet it was plugged into.
“Our thoughts are still with the families who lost loved ones, the residents who were injured, and those who lost all their belongings,” said Chief Scott Kruger. “I’d like to express my deep appreciation to the New Bedford firefighters and mutual aid departments who put everything they had into containing this fire and protecting the surrounding structures. This was a tragic event, but it could have been much worse without the assistance of our public safety partners and our community.”
All residents of the four-story rooming house were displaced by the fire and two people were killed.
One victim was identified Tuesday night as 59-year-old Manuel Moreira while the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office identified the second on Friday afternoon as 63-year-old resident Wayne Bourdon. Five other people were hospitalized as a result of the fire.
Firefighters responding to an alarm activation at 1305 Acushnet Avenue around 3:15 pm Tuesday found heavy smoke and flames and occupants hanging from the windows and jumping from the building to escape. Crews immediately began conducting rescues over ground ladders.
A general alarm was declared, bringing all New Bedford apparatus and off-duty personnel to the scene along with dozens of firefighters from surrounding communities. The building sustained “catastrophic” damage, but firefighters were able to keep the flames from spreading to nearby homes and businesses.
The fire was under control by 6 p.m., but firefighters remained on scene for hours afterward to extinguish hot spots.
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