A deadly fire at a New Bedford rooming house Tuesday started accidentally, likely caused by a microwave or wall outlet, fire officials said Friday.
Two people were killed and five others hospitalized when fire broke out at the building on Acushnet Avenue. The State Fire Marshal's Office said investigators determined the fire started in a room on the second floor. They believe the fire was caused either by a microwave that was in use before the fire started, or the wall outlet it was plugged into at the time. Electrical fires are the second-leading cause of death for residential fires in Massachusetts, according to the state fire marshal.
One of the people who died has been identified as Manuel Moreira, a 59-year-old who lived on the fourth floor, the Bristol County District Attorney's Office said Wednesday. The second person killed has not been publicly identified.
The fire — which broke out at around 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday — tore through the 32-unit building on Acushnet Avenue, and left at least 24 people without a home. Crews on scene Wednesday morning said the building was slated to be knocked down
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When emergency crews arrived, multiple people were hanging out of windows needing to be rescued, New Bedford Fire Chief Scott Kruger said. Firefighters made several rescues during the call.
“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 Kruger in a statement.
Witnesses described a horrific scene, including seeing someone who was severely burned jump out of a second-story window.
The size of the building and fire conditions made it difficult for first responders to determine who needed to be rescued first. Crews responded from New Bedford and surrounding towns, including firefighters from Acushnet, Dartmouth, and Fairhaven at the scene and ambulances from Freetown, Lakeville, Marion, Wareham, and Westport.
Around 80 firefighters responded to the fire, with other local agencies coming to assist.
Community efforts are underway to help the displaced residents.