Authorities Identify Cause Of Deadly New Bedford Fire

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Authorities have identified the cause of the deadly fire on Acushnet Avenue, saying it was due to the improper disposal of smoking materials.

The fire department arrived to the scene on Monday around midnight.

NBFD Fire Investigation Unit, MA Fire Marshals Office, and NBPD Detectives stated that the fire started in the alley between the two buildings.

1279 & 1283 Acushnet Ave, which serve for a mix of commercial and residential purposes, were heavily on fire; the blaze had spread up the exterior walls of the buildings into the roofs and attics of both structures when crews arrived.

According to the New Bedford Fire Department, once crews began advancing to the third floor and attic in both buildings, crews discovered the fire had already entered the stairways.

The fire left two dead, one firefighter injured, and forty people displaced.

On Thursday, The Office of Bristol District Attorney Thomas Quinn III identified the two victims as Tomas Gomez-Delacruz, 49, and Juan Macario-Mejia, 40.

New Bedford Fire Chief Scott Kruger said in a statement that the commercial building the two men were in, 1279 Acushnet Avenue, had no central alarm system and no sprinklers.

“This fire is a terrible tragedy and on behalf of the City of New Bedford and our firefighters, I offer my deepest condolences to the families," Kruger said. "This fire clearly demonstrates that fire sprinklers buy time and time buys life. The deaths occurred in the non-sprinklered building and everyone in the sprinklered building were able to escape safely.”

Kruger also noted that many of the smoke alarms in 1279 appeared to be disabled.

State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey noted the importance of having updated and properly installed smoke alarms.

Ostroskey said, “In Massachusetts, smoke alarms must be replaced after ten years. The sensing mechanism degrades over time and cannot be relied upon to work when you need it most.”

The American Red Cross and the Salvation Army provided services to those in need after the fire.

WBZ NewsRadio's Tim Dunn reports

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(Photo: New Bedford Fire Department)

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