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January 28, 2013

Fire claims life of city resident

GLOUCESTER — A two-alarm fire, Gloucester’s fifth significant house fire in just over a week and second of the weekend, ravaged a Windsor Lane home late Saturday night and left a Gloucester resident dead.

Fire Chief Eric Smith said there was reportedly just one person living in the one-story wood frame home, and the resident was reportedly trapped inside. Fire officials had not released the identity of the victim as of late Sunday. No firefighters, other emergency personnel or neighbors were injured in the blaze.

Firefighters believe smoke detectors may have been inactive or faulty in the home, since the department received no notice of the fire until a neighbor of the 4 Windsor Lane home, seeing flames billowing from a skylight and windows, called firefighters about 11:02 p.m. reporting that the house was burning and the female resident and her pets might be inside, Chief Smith said.

Smith said that, with such damage at the home, it is hard to confirm for sure if smoke detectors were installed and operational, but it seemed unlikely.

“The common thought and wisdom here is had the victim had operable smoke detectors, they would have had enough time to escape,” Smith said. “One would expect that had there been smoke detectors there, once the fire got to the point where people hear it and realize we have a fire, it’s time to leave, that people would leave.”

When firefighters arrived on scene, the home — on a small street off Western Avenue just beyond Stage Fort Park — was about 85 percent engulfed in flames, Smith said. Firefighters also found two dogs that were killed in the fire, according to a report.

“The reality is that, even though (the firefighters’) efforts were outstanding and coordinated well, when we pull up to a fully involved fire like that, the likelihood of anyone surviving that is very slim,” Smith said.

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