Wednesday, April 29, 2015

No Cause Yet In Warren Street Fire

Ken O’Brien

A three-alarm fire overnight damaged a home at 92 Warren Street.  One Southbridge firefighter went to Harrington Hospital after the fire for possible smoke inhalation, and was treated and released.  Both residents of the home and their pets got out safely, said Southbridge Fire Chief Mark W. DiFronzo. Investigators have not yet disclosed the cause of the blaze.

Reports indicate that the fire started in a toolshed and was caused by a battery charger.

Firefighters got the call to the home at about 11:47 p.m. Tuesday and remained on the scene until about 3 a.m. Wednesday. Chief DiFronzo said the fire started at the rear of the property, extended into the house and caused heat and smoke damage to the inside of the home. 

Firefighters from Sturbridge, Charlton, Dudley, Webster and the Muddy Brook village in Woodstock, Connecticut, assisted Southbridge firefighters. The Red Cross responded to assist residents.

Chief DiFronzo said, "Unfortunately, the people lost a lot of their belongings. There were handguns and ammunition in the house, but the material caused no problems during the fire.”


  1. There are many “materials” in households that can cause problems during the flames and high heat of a fire. I.e. Aerosol cans, solvents, gas lines, etc.
    So, other than for possibly PC reasons I wonder why the Fire Chief has made such a big deal of stating the materials he cited in this fire without mentioning any of the other common household materials that could cause firefighters problems in fighting a fire?
    Fortunately we have brave good people fighting our fires. People we have supplied with up to date fire gear to protect them from all of these “materials” that can be found in a dwelling or business that is on fire, including the ones mentioned by the chief.
    What are missing from the chiefs’ quotes here are the teachable moments of fire prevention and the declaration of it being an accidental fire or one of arson. I think he owes the public an initial determination even if the fire is under investigation.
    So what has the chief made public about the use of portable power supplies and the recalls on some of these products that cause fires? Don’t we want a caring department willing to advise and educate the public on the recalls and fire risks for overcharging portable jump start and power supplies units. Fire Prevention facts like that lithium batteries in these “materials” can overheat and cause the units to melt, catch fire and ignite nearby items, posing a fire hazard to consumers. Chief SMOKEY Difronso only you can stop household fires with fire prevention tips and education tabs. Well, that is after you finish the long time construction project of your webpage.
    Further teachable moments he should be discussing are the PC materials some people are putting on their roofs and the dangers they present to both the homeowners and the fire fighters. While you’re being green with your rooftop solar panels these PC materials are causing big problems during a fire.
    I.e., Problems of electrocution or shock hazards, Dangers of slipping or tripping for firefighters, Respiratory concerns over burning materials, Increased fire spreading due to not being fire resistant and melting issues, The increase in time it takes to vent a roof due to the difficulties maneuvering around them, time lost to safely de-energize panels and/or removing them to actually get to the roof to vent, Early roof collapse due to excess weight and again the time lost because of the solar panels in place. These materials are more likely to result in the decision to not save your structure if all lives have been accounted for.
    There is no such thing as a good house fire only the bad and the worst kinds. House fires clearly present many dangers for firefighters from all the many materials we all legally keep in our households. I don’t think it was necessary for the chief to become the NY TIMES identifying the address of this gun owner. I only agree with him that it is very unfortunate that these residents lost many of their belongings. For their sake I hope these “materials” weren't lost in the fire but were saved by Southbridge’s bravest.

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