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Beware Fatal Fires Caused By Overloaded Power Strip

Last August an elderly, disabled former Groton resident died in a Pepperell House Fire caused by an overloaded power strip. Over the holidays, Fitchburg Fire Chief Kevin D. Roy and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey reported that another fatal fire at 14 Highland Avenue in Fitchburg was also caused by an overloaded power strip. The fire took the lives of two brothers, ages 50 and 61.
     Investigators found a lightweight extension cord and a flexible power strip plugged into an outlet located in a first floor bedroom of the two-family home. Among the appliances plugged in were a space heater, a cellphone, a lamp, a television, and a computer monitor and processor. It is impossible to say which, if any, of the appliances caused the overload or if the use of all the appliances together triggered it.
     “I would ask anyone else in the city using a space heater to make sure it is plugged directly into the wall outlet not an extension cord or power strip. Remember that space heaters need space and should be three feet from anything that can catch fire,” The Fitchburg Fire Chief said. He added, “And turn them off before going sleep or leaving the house.”
     No working smoke alarms were found in the house. “Smoke alarms are your first line of defense in a fire. They can give you time to use your home escape plan,” said Ostroskey.
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