Investigators Determine Cause of Woodcrest Fire

State and local officials say the blaze was accidental.

On Thursday afternoon at approximately 3:10 p.m., the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services announced in a joint investigation by local and state fire and police officials that the most likely cause of the recent Woodcrest fire was an extension cord underneath a fold-out couch.

Investigators also indicate the fire was likely accidental.

The fire took the lives of Susan Astle, 67, and Paul Deslauriers, 77, who lived in the apartment. A 7-year old boy was injured in the fire and is being treated in a Boston hospital. Twenty-one apartments were destroyed by the fire and 31 people were displaced by the fire.

“Sadly, this fire took two lives and forever altered so many others," said Chelmsford Fire Department chief Michael Curran. "Fire moves incredibly fast and the foam in our furniture and plastics in our homes give off toxic fumes that give us a short window to respond to the smoke alarm and use our escape plan.”

State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan added the fire as an example on why buildings should have fire sprinklers, noting that the building was not required to have them when it was built.

The fire was jointly investigated by State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal and to Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone’s Office, members of the Chelmsford Fire Department and of the Chelmsford Police Department, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The ATF frequently joins the investigation team on significant fire losses. Assistance was received from the Code Compliance Unit of the Office of the State Fire Marshal and an electrical inspector.


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