SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - The State Fire marshal told 22News that it was a malfunctioning fireplace that started the fire that took the lives of an elderly woman and her 64 year old daughter in Whately Wednesday night.
22News is working for you with ways you can help your family avoid your fireplaces from causing a fire in your home.
Fireplace and woodstove season is certainly winding down, but with the cool days and nights we've had so far this spring many families are still using their fireplaces and woodstoves to heat their homes.
Firefighters remind you that preventive maintenance is key to keeping your family safe.
The fire that killed 94-year-old Mary Golonka and her 64-year-old daughter Sonia Golonka in Whately, Wednesday night, started in the floor beneath their old fireplace. The fireproof brick had cracked and the metal fireplace had rusted and decayed, allowing heat and sparks to fall below.
State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan says this is a tragic reminder that regular maintenance of heating systems is key to preventing fires.
According to Jean Peloquin of Fireside Designs in West Springfield, "Have it evaluated by a professional, either a chimney sweep or maybe your local fireplace shop. We're dealing with fire here and we're dealing with lives. We have to be very careful."
Jean Peloquin told 22News many customers who come to Fireside Designs say they love the smokey smell that comes with using a fireplace, but if you smell smoke it actually means something isn't working properly and needs to be checked out.
Regardless of whether there's a fireplace or woodstove in your home, there are still precautions everyone needs to take. "Have a functional carbon monoxide and smoke detector, so if there are any issues with venting or a gas leak you will be alarmed," said Peloquin.
This reminder to clean your appliances on a regular basis does carry over into the summer. Any grills or other appliances that burn with wood or gas should be inspected as well.
For The Dos and Don'ts of Fireplace Safety click here .