Fatal Mass. fire started by towel on space heater
The blaze that killed an 85-year-old woman began when a towel left on a gas heater ignited, according to the State Fire Marshal's office
The Standard-Times, New Bedford, Mass.
NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — The fatal fire on Coffin Avenue that killed an 85-year-old woman was started by a towel that ignited after being left on top of a room gas heater, according to the State Fire Marshal.
Louise Barboza, who lived at the 354 Coffin Avenue address, died as a result fire. At the time the fire started, she was on the telephone with a relative and described what happened, according to a statement from the State Fire Marshal's office.
The New Bedford Fire Department, New Bedford Police Department and State Police assigned to both the Office of the State Fire Marshal and to the Office of the Bristol District Attorney jointly investigated the fire.
Firefighters rescued the woman, but she later succumbed to her injuries at Rhode Island Hospital.
"Whether it is an electric space heater or an old time room gas heater, it is important to keep anything that can catch fire three feet away from them. This is a tragic example of what can happen when clothes are placed on a space heater to dry," said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey.
Space Heater Fires Not Frequent but Often Deadly
One hundred thirty-six (136) space heater fires were reported to the Office of the State Fire Marshal between 2009 and 2018. While these fires are not frequent, they are deadly. One of every 68 space heater fires causes a fatality.
Between 2009 and 2018, space heater fires caused two civilian deaths, 18 civilian injuries, 26 fire service injuries and an estimated dollar loss of $10.5 million. Sixteen percent (16%) of these fires were caused when combustible materials such as bedding, mattresses and pillows, clothing or furniture were too close to the heater, and another 9% were caused when rugs, carpets or mats were under or too close to the heater.
For information on space heaters or about how to keep warm safely this winter go to: www.mass.gov/keepwarmkeepsafe.
©2019 The Standard-Times, New Bedford, Mass.