In Braintree, Massachusetts, firefighters suspect that a recent fire might have been caused by an electrical issue. This pastThursday, the three floor apartment building, known as Braintree Gardens, had a smoke alarm go off early in the early morning.The hallways were filled with a dense, black smoke, causing many residents to flee to their small, outdoor balconies, rather than try and navigate to the inside stairways.
Luckily, firefighters were on the scene within minutes, and knocked out first and second story windows so that residents could be escorted down and out of the building, and into the area parking lot. “They were great. They got us out right away,” said resident Scott Bradley, who had been stuck in his third-floor unit.
The fire is currently under investigation by firefighters, the State Police, and the Braintree police. State Fire Marshal, Stephen Coan, believe that the smoke was caused when a motorized wheelchair caught on fire. The wheelchair had been plugged into an underground outlet via two extension cords, with one cord being plugged into another. Investigators suspect that the extension cords became overloaded this way, though they are not ruling out the possibility of arson.
According to resident William Ng, as interviewed by the Patriot Ledger, the wheelchair belonged to someone in the apartment, and was often left in the foyer. Many residents had complained about it in the past. Several families have had to temporarily relocate, and cleaning and restoration services are already underway at the condos. Fire Chief James O’Brien hopes that residents will be able to return within a day or two.
Coan pointed out that May is Fire Safety Month, and wants to remind other residents that one of the leading causes of household fires is, in fact, overloaded circuits and cords. Each year, over 45,000 home fires reported to U.S. fire departments are the result of an electrical failure or malfunction.
“Most older homes have a lack of power outlets, as well as limited circuits. Home owners should be aware of how much load is on each circuit in their home,” says Jason of Hanshaw Electric, “Always consult a certified electrician if you’re having electrical troubles and prior to adding any loads to existing circuits. Serious damage and even fire can occur under overloading conditions.”