Cause of Fatal New Bedford Fire Found to Be Accidental
NEW BEDFORD — An investigation has found that the cause of this week's deadly fire at a New Bedford rooming house was accidental, apparently coming from either a microwave or the outlet it was plugged into.
According to a release from officials on Friday, investigators found the fire started in Room 205 of the Royal Crown Lodging, which was towards the back of the Acushnet Avenue building.
Two people — including 59-year-old Manuel Moreira — were killed in the massive fire that broke out Tuesday afternoon and quickly engulfed the four-story residence.
The second victim has yet to be identified.
A spokesman for the Bristol County District Attorney's Office told WBSM News the person's identity will be released following confirmation from the medical examiner.
New Bedford Fire Chief Scott Kruger, New Bedford Police Chief Paul Oliveira, State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey, and Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn wrote in the release that the microwave had been in use for just a short time before the fire started.
Investigators from New Bedford's fire and police departments along with state police assigned to the State Fire Marshal's office and the Bristol County D.A.'s office worked to uncover the cause.
"Our thoughts are still with the families who lost loved ones, the residents who were injured, and those who lost all their belongings," said Kruger.
"I’d like to express my deep appreciation to the New Bedford firefighters and mutual aid departments who put everything they had into containing this fire and protecting the surrounding structures," he added.
"This was a tragic event, but it could have been much worse without the assistance of our public safety partners and our community."
All of the nearly 30 residents of the large boarding house were displaced in the fire, and five people were hospitalized.
Meanwhile, New Bedford city workers have announced an official fund to support those displaced.
Anyone hoping to help can donate to Rise Up For Homes, which has been designated as the official relief fund and was set up by the city's Homeless Service Providers Network and non-profit partner, the Inter-Church Council of Greater New Bedford.
"The fire has abruptly displaced dozens of residents and turned their lives upside down. I appreciate the partnership of the Inter-Church Council of Greater New Bedford and all of the partners involved in Rise Up For Homes to help meet the challenge," said Mayor Jon Mitchell.
The funds will be passed along to those displaced by the non-profit Inter-Church Council.
Ostroskey noted that electrical fires are the second-leading cause of home fire deaths in the state.
"Appliances that generate heat, like microwaves and toasters, should always be plugged directly into a wall outlet," the state fire marshal said.
"Don’t use them if the device or the cord is damaged. And call an electrician if outlets are warm, discolored, or loose — these are signs that the outlet is not safe to use."
For more information on how to help those displaced, visit riseupforhomes.com/donate.