NEW BEDFORD — Investigators have determined that a fatal New Bedford fire that took the life of an elderly man on Saturday evening originated with electrical appliances or wiring at the kitchen countertop level.

In a statement released today, New Bedford Fire Chief Paul N. Corderre Jr., New Bedford Police Chief Joseph C. Cordeiro, Bristol District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said the cause of the December 28 fire at 141-143 Myrtle Street "appears to have been an electrical event in the kitchen."

They added that because of the damage to the wiring and the electronic appliances, "the fire will remain officially undetermined."

The blaze took the life of 88-year-old Robert Seamans, who lived on the top floor of a two-family home. Seamans was rescued from his apartment by New Bedford firefighters and transported to St. Luke's hospital where he soon succumbed to his injuries.

According to investigators, the fire originated at the kitchen countertop level where there was a toaster, a can opener, and a coffee maker. There was a 3-way adapter plug in one outlet and a microwave oven plugged into an extension cord. The investigators said it was impossible to determine which, if any, of the appliances were actually plugged in, or in use, at the time of the fire.

The New Bedford Fire Department, the New Bedford Police Department and State Police assigned to both the Office of the State Fire Marshal and to the Office of the Bristol District Attorney jointly investigated the fire.

“On behalf of the New Bedford Fire Department, I offer my deepest condolences to the family,” said Corderre.

Electrical malfunctions are one of the leading causes of fatal fires in Massachusetts. For more information on how to prevent electrical fires go to:

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