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Police & Fire

Officials ID Cause Of Fire That Killed 1 Woman And 15-20 Dogs

Fire photo illustration
Fire photo illustration Photo Credit: Image by ciobanucatalina from Pixabay

Fire officials have determined the cause of a January fire that killed 1 person and 15-20 dogs in Central Massachusetts.

On Friday, Feb. 12, the Massachusetts Fire Marshal said that a Jan. 18 fire in Holliston was likely started by a space heater.

On Jan. 18, firefighters responded to a report of a one-story home at 623 Winter St., around 11:40 p.m. On scene firefighters were able to rescue and resuscitate a woman who had initially escaped the blaze but went back into the smoke-filled home in an unsuccessful attempt to rescue her dogs, the Fire Marshal said.

The woman and her husband, who was also at the home, were taken to the hospital for treatment. The woman, Ronda Levine, 77, died from her injuries, the Fire Marshal said.

Fire officials said it is not clear whether the space heater that started the fire was too close to something that caught fire, it failed, or overloaded the electrical system. The furnace was not working and the only heat in the home was from multiple space heaters used throughout the dwelling, the Fire Marshal said. There were no working smoke or carbon monoxide alarms in the house.

“This fire is a terrible tragedy for the Levine family and for the Town of Holliston. Sadly, every tragedy provides us with lessons on how not to have a repeat,” said Holliston Fire Chief Michael R. Cassidy, in a statement. “Working smoke alarms give you more time to use your home escape plan, and as we teach our youngsters in school, get out and stay out. Never re-enter a burning building.”

The Fire Marshal wanted to remind people that senior homeowners in need of help maintaining their heating systems can get help from the Massachusetts Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), even if they do not need assistance with fuel bills.

“A well-maintained furnace prevents fires and carbon monoxide poisoning and is cheaper to run,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey. Chief Stone said, “The Holliston Senior Center can help local seniors connect with fuel assistance and other services.”

For more information on winter heating safety, go to www.mass.gov/keepwarmkeepsafe.

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