A recent church fire caused by malfunctioning electric work has the Massachusetts Fire Marshal out spreading awareness of the signs a home may be at higher risk of starting an electric fire as well as the signs that an electrical fire is already burning.
On Wednesday, Feb. 24, the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal’s Office said that the cause of the Corpus Christi Parish Rectory at Holy Rosary Church fire in Lawrence was electrical.
The four-alarm blaze broke out a little before 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 22, at 35 Essex St.
The one pastor inside the rectory at the time was able to escape safely.
Damages are estimated at $1.5 million, the fire marshal said.
“Our goal was to save the church and we were able to do that,” said Lawrence Fire Chief Brian F. Moriarty in a statement.
Firefighters traced the source of the fire to a void space in the first-floor ceiling. The only heat source there was an electrical cable.
SIGNS OF A FIRE IN THE WALLS
Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said that because electrical fires often start behind walls they can be hard to detect right away. There are signs, however, that an electric fire is burning, perhaps in a hidden space within a home:
- Arcs, sparks
- Short circuits
- A sizzling or buzzing sound
- Odors, a vague smell of something burning.
SIGNS YOUR HOME IS AT AN INCREASED RISK FOR ELECTRICAL FIRES
Warning signs that your electrical system may be at risk for fire include:
- Frequently blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers
- Dim or flickering light bulbs that wear out too fast
- Overheated plugs, cords, or switches
- Shock or mild tingle - more than normal static electricity
- Loose plugs
- Unusually warm or faulty outlets or switches.
The Fire Marshal advises homeowners to have a licensed electrician review their homes' electric systems every 10 years.
Lawrence Mayor Kendrys Vasquez said it was the quick work of local firefighters that saved the entire church from going up in flames.
“First, I would like to thank Fire Chief Moriarty and the rest of the fire department,” Vasquez said in a statement. “The church is still standing because of their quick and diligent efforts to control the fire and keep it from spreading. Houses of worship like the Corpus Christi Parish at Holy Rosary Church are pillars of our community. Many greater Lawrence area residents have been hit hard by this fire and my heart goes out to them.”
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