SHEFFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Investigators have determined the cause of a deadly fire in Berkshire County.

Local and state officials said that the fire at 1715 Hewins Street on Wednesday was accidental after they found that a failure of the chimney and wood burning furnace caused the fire.

The fire reportedly started inside the chimney then spread to nearby combustibles.  Authorities found several areas where heat and smoke breached the chimney and piping system from the furnace and entered the house.

In addition, there was reportedly a significant amount of wood and kindling next to the wood-burning furnace in the basement.

Two people died in the fire, 75-year-old James Boltrom and 66-year-old Dorene Boltrom.

“On behalf of our firefighters and the town of Sheffield, I offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the victims. We’re all neighbors in this small town," said Sheffield Fire Chief David Ullrich, adding that there were no signs of working smoke detectors in the home. 

The state fire marshal's office said that in 2019, there were 570 fire incidents that involved chimneys, fireplaces, and woodstoves in Massachusetts.  Those fires led to three civilian deaths, one fire service death, two firefighter injuries, and $2 million in property loss.

“These were the first fire deaths of 2021. We want everyone to keep warm and keep safe this winter. It is important to have chimneys cleaned and inspected for broken mortar every year and it’s not too late to do so now before we head into the coldest part of the year...It is also important to shovel ashes into a metal can with a lid and store them outside, away from the house, separate from any other rubbish," said State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey in a statement.

The state offers more information online on how to heat your home safely with wood.

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