Fire Officials Urge the Public to Leave the Fireworks to the Professionals

“Last year, several people lost fingers and suffered serious burns lighting off illegal fireworks in Massachusetts,” said State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey. “Thirty-four firefighters were injured when an errant firework ignited a six-family building. Have a fun but safe Fourth of July and leave the fireworks to the professionals,” he added.

Fourth of July No Holiday for Firefighters

Needham Fire Chief Dennis Condon, president of the Fire Chiefs’ Association of Massachusetts, said, “The Fourth of July holiday is a busy time for firefighters. We are supervising the professional displays so that they are safe for spectators and licensed operators; we are busy responding to all types of fires and medical emergencies. In fact, the week of July Fourth is one of the busiest times of the year for fires.”

State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said, “This year, set a good example for your children. Just as children know where you keep the matches and lighters, they know where you stash your illegal fireworks.” He added, “Children imitate adults. If you use fireworks, children will copy you, not realizing how very dangerous fireworks are.”

Fireworks Cause Many Dangerous Fires

Last summer, there were many fires, amputations and burn injuries from illegal fireworks in Massachusetts. In the past decade (2009-2018), there have been 800 major fires and explosions involving illegal fireworks in Massachusetts[1]. These incidents resulted in 12 civilian injuries, 39 fire service injuries and an estimated dollar loss of $2.5 million.

· On June 25, 2018, people shooting fireworks in the street started a fire in a six-unit Lynn apartment building. One ricocheted to the second floor porch and ignited several items. The fire spread to the rest of the second floor and to the third. Thirty-four firefighters were injured at this fire.

· On July 2, 2018, the Worcester Fire Department was called to a fire in a three-unit apartment building. The fire was started by fireworks igniting trash in a first floor doorway.

· On July 3, 2018, Dartmouth District #1 responded to a pier fire at Anthony’s Beach. Crews discovered remains of many fireworks on and around the pier after the fire was extinguished.

· On July 4, 2018, the Agawam Fire Department responded to a brush fire started by three juveniles who were using illegal fireworks.

· On July 5, 2018, the Lynn Fire Department put out a car fire started by fireworks.

Fireworks Injuries

In the past decade (2009-2018), 38 people were treated at Massachusetts emergency rooms for severe burn injuries from fireworks (burns covering 5 percent of more of the body) according to the Massachusetts Burn Injury Reporting System (M-BIRS). Fifty-five percent of the victims were under age 25. Eighteen percent (18 percent) were between the ages of 15 and 24; 8 percent were between the ages of 10 and 14; 18 percent were between five and nine; and 11 percent were children under five. The youngest victim was a six-month old boy. These victims are scarred for life. In the past year:

· A 22-year-old man was seriously injured when roman candles were set off inside an Amherst apartment.

· A 22-year-old was injured in Gloucester playing with sparklers.

· A 10-year-old boy was injured by illegal fireworks at a Marshfield beach on July 3, 2018. He was an innocent by-stander.

· A man lost part of his hand when a firework he was holding exploded. The explosion occurred in a Mansfield MBTA parking lot.

· The Tewksbury Fire Department provided emergency medical care to a man who lost a part of every finger on his right hand when a firework he was holding exploded.

· A 25-year-old Brockton man suffered injuries to his left hand when a “cherry bomb” exploded.

· A 22-year-old Kingston man suffered injuries to his hands, face and stomach from a firework.

All Fireworks Are Illegal in Massachusetts

The possession and use of all fireworks by private citizens is illegal in Massachusetts. This includes Class C fireworks, which are sometimes falsely called “safe and sane” fireworks. Class C fireworks include sparklers, party poppers, snappers, firecrackers, spinners, cherry bombs and more. Sparklers burn at 1,800ºF or higher. It is illegal to transport fireworks into Massachusetts, even if they were purchased legally elsewhere. Illegal fireworks can be confiscated on the spot.

For more information on the dangers of fireworks, go to the Department of Fire Services webpage Leave the Fireworks to the Professionals.

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Chelsea Fatal Fire Determined to Be Caused by Electrical Problems

Chelsea Fire Chief Leonard A. Albanese Jr., Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes, State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey and Suffolk District Attorney Rachel Rollins announced the cause of the May 3 fire at 48 Watts St., a 2-family home in Chelsea, was electrical.

A quick-moving fire on Watts and Highland Streets last Friday, May 3, claimed the life of one 37-year-old man and caused extensive damage. Investigators said there were major problems with smoke detectors in the home and first-responders reported not hearing any alarms upon arrival.

The fire took the life of an adult man believed to be a relative of the occupants of 48 Watts St. The victim was identified as Milton Lopez, 37.

In the dense neighborhood, the fire spread to rear of 107-109 Highland Street.

The fire originated in a void space above the suspended ceiling of an enclosed porch. Investigators determined that an electrical event took place in the area of origin where there were numerous electrical circuits. Just before the fire was discovered, residents reported that the lights in the first floor kitchen, the room next to the porch, went off. The victim was found on the enclosed porch.

Chelsea fire investigators, Chelsea detectives, and State Police assigned to both the Office of the State Fire Marshal and to the Office of Suffolk District Attorney Rachel Rollins jointly investigated this fire. The Chelsea Inspectional Services Department, State Police Crime Scene Services and the Department of Fire Services’ Code Compliance Unit provided assistance.

The home had a mixture of working, missing and disconnected smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms and heat detectors. All of the alarms found in the home, whether they were disconnected, lying on a shelf, or actually functional, had expired and were more than 10 years old. First-arriving firefighters report not hearing any alarms sounding.

State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said, “May is Electrical Safety Month and electrical fires are the second leading cause of fire deaths in Massachusetts behind smoking. It’s important to have a licensed electrician check out your system every ten years to prevent problems.”

For more information on electrical fire safety go to: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/electrical-fire-safety.

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Chelsea Man Indicted in Alleged Arson on Washington Ave.

A 20-year-old Chelsea man has been charged with setting a fire last year that injured two firefighters and left 18 without a home – all over an alleged conflict with a resident of the building.

The indictment announcement came on Friday from Chelsea Fire Chief Robert Better Jr., State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan, Chelsea Police Chief Bryan Kyes, and Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley.

Nestor Perez, 20, of Chelsea, was arraigned Friday in Suffolk Superior Court on a charge of arson of a dwelling and two counts each of wanton destruction of property over $250 and causing injury to a firefighter. Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Brandt requested that bail be set in the amount of $5,000. Clerk Magistrate Connie Wong imposed $1,000 bail and ordered Perez to have no contact with any witnesses in the case.

According to prosecutors, Perez and two others were present at a three-family residence at 196 Washington Ave. on the evening of Oct. 22, 2013. Perez climbed the stairs to the second-floor porch, banged on the door, and demanded to see a resident with whom he had a conflict. He soon ran down the stairs and instructed the other individuals to leave the area. The group proceeded to a nearby convenience store.

A fire erupted on the second-floor porch within minutes of Perez being there, prosecutors said.

Two Chelsea firefighters were injured battling the three-alarm fire, which damaged the building beyond repair and caused thousands of dollars in heat and water damage to neighboring buildings, and displaced 18 people.

An investigation into the cause and origin of the fire revealed that after the fire was started on the second-floor porch, it spread into the second-floor apartment’s kitchen and then to the third-floor attic bedrooms and roof. Several combustible items had been stored on the porch, the investigation found.

The cause and origin investigation was led by the Chelsea Fire Department and State Troopers assigned to the State Fire Marshal’s office. Chelsea Police detectives obtained footage from City of Chelsea public safety cameras and other surveillance cameras showing Perez in the area of the fire immediately after the fire started.

Suffolk prosecutors led the grand jury investigation.

Perez is represented by attorney Eduardo Masferrer, and he will return to court May 29.

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Arrest Made in Everett and Chelsea Arson Fires

Arrest Made in Everett and Chelsea Arson Fires

A Dorchester man has been charged with attempted murder for setting two major fires – one in Chelsea – after getting in a fight with his girlfriend and trying to fight that fire with a fire.

Late last week, State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan, Everett Fire Chief David Butler, Chelsea Fire Chief Robert Better Jr, Everett Police Chief Steven Mazzie, and Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes announced the arrest of Alfred J. Jordan, 31 of Dorchester, for two recent arson fires.

Jordan will be charged in Suffolk County with setting a fire in the early morning hours of Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 227 Washington Avenue, Chelsea, after having a fight with his girlfriend there.

He is believed to have set a second fire a short time later at 187 Elm Street, Everett, where his girlfriend was. He is charged in Middlesex County with one count of burning a dwelling and four counts of attempted murder for the Everett fire.

The Chelsea fire caused an estimated $50,000 in damages to the five-unit residential building that also injured one firefighter. Fortunately the smoke alarms worked and none of the 15 occupants were injured.

The Everett fire totally destroyed the 3-family building causing $350,000 in damages and spread to three additional residences and one commercial building. Working smoke alarms helped prevent injuries to any of the four occupants of the building where the fire started.

The Everett Police Department rescued the first floor tenant, who has only one leg. One firefighter was injured.

Multiple agencies were involved in these fire investigations led by State Police investigators assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal including trained fire investigators from the Chelsea and Everett Fire Departments, and detectives from the Chelsea and Everett Police Departments. The cases will be prosecuted by the Middlesex (Everett) and Suffolk (Chelsea) District Attorneys.

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