Officials: Smoking materials dropped from window sparked deadly New Bedford blaze

NEW BEDFORD, MASS. (WHDH) - Smoking materials that were dropped from window sparked a deadly fire that tore through two mixed-use buildings in New Bedford earlier this week, officials announced Friday.

Crews responding to a reported structure fire on Acushent Avenue around 12:45 a.m. on Monday found heavy smoke and flames coming from one of the buildings.

Tomas Gomez-Delacruz, 49, and Juan Macario-Mejia, 40, both perished in the blaze, according to Bristol District Attorney Thomas Quinn III.

The fire started in the alleyway between 1279 and 1283 Acushnet Ave. when smoking materials dropped from an upper floor ignited trash and debris next to a dumpster, New Bedford Fire Chief Scott Kruger, New Bedford Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro, and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said in a joint news release.

The two victims were found in 1279 Acushnet Ave., a four-story building that had no sprinklers and no central alarm system, according to Kruger.

“This fire clearly demonstrates that fire sprinklers buy time and time buys life,” Kruger said. “The deaths occurred in the non-sprinklered building and everyone in the sprinklered building were able to escape safely.”

Forty people were displaced from the two buildings, as well as the commercial tenants on the first floors of both buildings.

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