Improper disposal of smoking materials caused New Bedford fire that killed two, displaced 40
NEW BEDFORD, MASS (WLNE) – The New Bedford Fire Department confirms two people have died as a result of a fire that engulfed two buildings on Acushnet Avenue on Monday, displacing 40 people.
New Bedford Fire Chief Scott Kruger, New Bedford Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro, and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said the improper disposal of smoking materials caused the fire that ripped through the residential and commercial buildings Monday around midnight.
The two victims have been identified as Tomas Gomez-Delacruz, 49, and Juan Macario-Mejia, 40. One firefighter suffered minor injuries, and 40 people were displaced from the two buildings as well as the commercial tenants on the first floors of both buildings.
Fire officials say the fire started in the alleyway between 1279 and 1283 Acushnet Avenue when smoking materials were dropped from an upper floor, igniting trash and debris next to a dumpster.
The two victims were found in 1279 Acushnet Avenue, a 4-story building with commercial space on the first floor and two apartments on the second, third and fourth floors. The building had no sprinklers and no central alarm system, officials say.
“Many of the smoke alarms appeared disabled and were clearly more than ten years old. Residents stored items in the rear stairwell blocking it as a means of escape,” a press release reads.
“This fire is a terrible tragedy and on behalf of the City of New Bedford and our firefighters, I offer my deepest condolences to the families. This fire clearly demonstrates that fire sprinklers buy time and time buys life. The deaths occurred in the non-sprinklered building and everyone in the sprinklered building were able to escape safely,” said Chief Kruger.