PITTSFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A deadly fire in Pittsfield that killed a 74-year-old woman and injured a firefighter was caused by improper disposal of smoking materials according to the Department of Fire Services.
According to Pittsfield Fire Deputy Chief Ron Clemont, on July 6 the fire started around 10:15 p.m. at a home on 73 Chickering Street. When crews arrived in the area they saw heavy smoke and fire from a downstairs window leading up to the second floor.
Clemont said after an extensive search, a woman later identified as 74-year-old Frances Lysonski, was found and was taken Berkshire Medical Center. Department of Fire Services spokesperson Jennifer Mieth confirmed Lysonski passed away from her injuries. One firefighter was also injured battling the fire.
According to Mieth, the fire started in a plastic trash barrel in the first-floor living room. Several packs of Pall Mall cigarettes and matches were found in the area. Mieth said other possible causes were ruled out.
Mieth said there were no working smoke alarms in the home. One alarm found in the basement was at least 25 years old and had a dead battery in it and one alarm found buried under boxes on the second floor was also at least 25 years old and had no battery.
“Working smoke alarms give you early warning of danger and in a fire, you need every second. You have only 1-3 minutes to escape the typical house fire. Just like other household appliances, smoke alarms wear out and need to be replaced after ten years. Expired alarms cannot be relied on to work you when you need them most.”Pittsfield Fire Chief Thomas Sammons
Members of the Pittsfield Fire and Police Departments and State Police assigned to both the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Office of the Berkshire District Attorney jointly investigated the fire and assistance was received from the Department of Fire Services Code Compliance Unit.
According to State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey, this is the third deadly fire this year were fire alarms were too old to work. He’s reminding residents that if you have smoke alarms that are more than ten years old they need to be replaced.
“Please also check the age of alarms in the homes of elderly relatives. We don’t want anyone to risk falling in order to check their smoke alarms.”
Smoke alarms have a date of manufacturer on the side or back and any alarms that do not have a date printed on them are already more than 10 years old.