Woman killed, dozens displaced after car crash sparks fire at Fall River apartment complex

FALL RIVER, MASS. (WHDH) - A woman was killed, her passenger was left critically injured, multiple firefighters were hospitalized and dozens of people were displaced after a car slammed into a Fall River apartment complex and sparked a blaze on Tuesday morning, officials said.

Emergency crews responding to a reported car crash at the Four Winds apartment complex on North Main Street around 9:40 a.m. found a vehicle that had rammed into a laundry room area and ruptured a gas line, according to a spokesman for the Bristol District Attorney’s Office.

The driver, 72-year-old Judith Mauretti, of Fall River, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mauretti’s passenger, a 75-year-old Fall River woman, was rushed to Rhode Island Hospital, where she remains in critical condition. Her name has not been released.

Police believe Mauretti was speeding before she plowed into the building.

Four firefighters were taken from the scene and treated for heat-related injuries, Fall River Fire Chief John Lynch said.

An estimated 45 people were displaced by the fire.

Deb Steele told 7News that she had just gotten up to make her coffee when she heard a loud explosion and checked the laundry room.

“I (saw) flames and smoke come from under the door, and I heard a car horn blowing, so I figured a car went through,” she said. “So I woke my husband up to get out.”

High winds made fighting the fire more difficult, and hours after the initial crash, flames could still be seen shooting out of the top of the roof. One part of the building’s roof has collapsed.

The fire was eventually extinguished after about three hours. No one inside the building was injured.

Police don’t believe foul play was a factor in the crash.

There was no working sprinkler system in the building, according to investigators.

It’s not clear if residents will be able to return to their homes due to the concern of a complete collapse.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.


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