News, Police/Fire

Saugus house fire was electrical, says fire marshal

SAUGUS — A fire that tore through the kitchen of a home on Bennett Avenue on Saturday was electrical, according to State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey.

The fire, which caused about $150,000 worth of damage and displaced two residents, was reported around 6 p.m. at 41 Bennett Avenue.

A resident of the single-family home noticed that the kitchen lights were off and the electrical breaker had tripped.  A few minutes after resetting the breaker, the kitchen lights went out again, and the resident reset the breaker a second time. A short time later, he smelled smoke and saw smoke coming from the attic vent.

Investigators determined the fire started in the attic above the kitchen and was due to a failure of electrical wiring, according to a statement from Ostroskey.

The fire was jointly investigated by the Saugus Fire Department and State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal. Assistance was received from the Saugus electrical inspector.

“Circuit breakers tripping in quick succession without a known cause, is a sign of trouble,” said Saugus Fire Chief Michael Newbury. “It is important to call the fire department whenever you experience one of the warning signs of an electrical fire. We can use our thermal imaging cameras to look for excessive heat inside the walls.”

He is urging residents to call the fire department immediately if they have any warning signs, including arcs, sparks or short circuits; a sizzling or buzzing sound; or odors such as a vague smell of something burning.

A professional electrician should be called if a resident experiences frequently blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers; dim or flickering lights, bulbs that wear out too fast; overheated plugs, cords or switches; shock or mild tingle – more than normal static electricity; loose plugs; or unusually warm or faulty outlets or switches.

“Electrical fires are one of the leading causes of home fire deaths,” said Ostroskey. “It is important to have a licensed electrician review your electrical system every 10 years. Small upgrades and repairs can prevent fires.”

In 2017, there were 556 electrical fires in homes reported to the Massachusetts Fire Incident Reporting System (MFIRS). These fires caused seven deaths, eight civilian injuries, 59 fire service injuries and damages of more than $71,000.

For more information on electrical fire safety in both English and Spanish, go to the Department of Fire Service’s Electrical Fire Safety webpage.

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