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Smoking Caused Fire At Winthrop Place June 1

Groton Fire Chief Steele McCurdy and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said the cause of the June 1, 2020 fire at 373 Main Street in Groton was the improper disposal of smoking materials. The fire caused an estimated $800,000 in damage to the eight-unit apartment building, also known as Winthrop Place. One resident and one firefighter were injured and treated at a local hospital.
     The fire was reported at 1:57 p.m. The building is a total loss and all the occupants have been displaced.
     The fire originated in an exterior storage closet on the front of the house. Investigators determined the cause was the improper disposal of smoking materials.
     Members of the Groton Fire and Police Departments and State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal jointly investigated the fire.
Fire Sprinklers
     The building had a partial sprinkler system that only protected the exit ways - hallways and stairs. Today, new multi-family buildings of this size must have fire sprinklers inside the living areas, the attic, and the storage areas. McCurdy said,       “Sprinklers in the storage area and the attic would have made a ton of difference in slowing the progression of this fire and would have led to a different outcome.
     “This fire is a prime example of why the fire service continues to push for change in the State Building Code to require sprinkler systems in all housing units. While the Building Code requires sprinklers in all new multi-family and most larger commercial buildings, the same cannot be said for one-and two-family homes which is where most fire deaths occur,” said Chief McCurdy. “Clearly the need for a change is paramount,” he added.
Truss Construction
     McCurdy added, “The truss construction used in this building is known to fail rapidly in a fire. Firefighters initially focused on life safety – getting all the occupants safely out of the building – because of the risk the roof and attic would collapse, which it did. Firefighters leaving the building saw the roof collapse happening behind them.”
Smoking Fire Safety: Put it Out. All the Way. Every Time.
     State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said, “The improper disposal of smoking materials is a leading cause of fires and fire deaths. It is fortunate this fire did not result in a death, but 40 percent of Massachusetts fire deaths this year have been due to smoking.”
     The Department of Fire Services currently has a smoking fire safety campaign that urges smokers to be responsible: Put it out. All the way. Every time. The campaign includes television and radio public service announcements in English and in Spanish. For more information on smoking fire safety, go to: https:// www.mass.gov/service-details/ smoking-fire-safety
     Chief McCurdy said, “We have had more than a half dozen fires started by smoking so far this year. This is a terrible time to be homeless and eight families have had to find new housing after losing all their worldly possessions.”
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