Deadly Sheffield house fire ruled accidental, victims identified

Berkshire County

SHEFFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A house fire that claimed the lives of two people in Sheffield early Wednesday morning has been ruled as an accident, according to local and state fire officials. 

A Department of Fire Services spokeswoman told 22News after investigating the cause of the deadly fire at 1715 Hewins Street, Sheffield Fire Chief David Ullrich, Sheffield Police Chief Eric Munson III, State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey determined the accidental fire was caused by a failure of the home’s chimney and wood-burning furnace. 

Two people killed in Sheffield house fire

The Berkshire District Attorney’s Office identified the two individuals killed in the house fire as 75-year-old James Boltrom and 66-year-old Dorene Boltrom.  

Crews from Sheffield, Great Barrington, Egremont, New Marlboro, and Caanan, Connecticut Fire Departments were called to the fire at around 5:49 a.m. The remains of the two senior adults were found inside the home, preliminary evidence did not indicate that the fire was suspicious, fire officials told 22News Wednesday. 

Investigators said the fire started inside the chimney and spread to nearby parts of the log cabin style home. They also discovered several areas where the smoke and heat forced through the chimney and piping system from the furnace and entered the home. 

There was a significant amount of wood and kindling next to the wood-burning furnace in the basement, fire officials said. Fire Chief Ullrich said there were no signs the home had working smoke alarms.

He explained, “Smoke alarms provide the early warning needed when you may have less than three minutes to wake up and escape.” 

On behalf of our firefighters and the town of Sheffield, I offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the victims. We’re all neighbors in this small town.

Sheffield Fire Chief David Ullrich

These were the state’s first fire-related deaths in 2021.

Click here for how you can safely keep warm and safe this winter. For more tips on how to heat safely with wood, click here.

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