Officials: Smoke alarms in fatal fire had missing, dead batterie - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Officials: Smoke alarms in fatal fire had missing, dead batteries

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PALMER, MA (WSHM) - Officials have determined that the apartment fire on Monday night that took the life of a 53-year-old Palmer woman was caused by a candle.

The victim of the fatal fire at 1047 Pleasant St. was identified as Christine Grinaski, who lived in the basement studio apartment, according to Jennifer Mieth of the Palmer Fire Department.

Grinaski notified a neighbor that a candle had ignited a fire inside of her apartment, but the neighbor was only barely able to make it out alive, Mieth said.

The majority of people who die in fires are overcome by smoke, and Grinaski was no exception.

“Fires are black making it impossible to see your hand in front of your face. The toxic gases in smoke are extremely disorienting, making it harder to think clearly and to escape even familiar surroundings.” State Fire Marshal Coan said. “It is so important when there is a fire that people get out fast and stay out. Call the fire department from outside a burning building.”

Investigators located evidence of a melted candle where the fire started in the living room and have eliminated all other possible causes, Mieth said.

Officials said that many of the smoke alarms that were not destroyed by the flames were found to have missing or dead batteries. 

More than 30 people were displaced from the 20-unit apartment building because of the fire. American Red Cross responded to provide assistance.

“Fire doubles in size every 60 seconds. It is critical to get out and stay out and get the fire department on its way. Time is your enemy in a fire when you may have less than two minutes to escape safely,” Palmer Fire Chief Alan Roy said

The fire was jointly investigated by the Palmer Fire Department, the Palmer Police Department, state police assigned to both the Office of the State Fire Marshal and to the Office of Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni.

The Code Compliance Unit in the Department of Fire Services' Division of Fire Safety and State Police Crime Scene Services also provided assistance.

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