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SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts – The cause of Wednesday evening’s fatal fire at 24 Artemas Avenue in Shrewsbury was electrical according to State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan and Shrewsbury Fire Chief James Vuona. The fire started in a first floor bedroom of the one-family home, in the area where an electric space heater, an electric blanket and extension cords were plugged into an outlet.
The fire took the life of 82-year old Richard Hosking. His wife was also injured before she was rescued by a neighboring family member who encountered intense smoke.
Coan said, “Electrical continues to be one of the leading causes of fatal fires, especially those that affect our seniors.” People over 65 account for one-third of the fire deaths each year in Massachusetts.
Investigation revealed no signs that the smoke alarms in the home were operable; one had no battery and the battery was dead in another. There were no carbon monoxide alarms installed at all.
Chief Vuona said, “This fire is a great tragedy not only for the Hosking family, but for the entire Shrewsbury community.” He added, “This fire reminds us to check on our elderly neighbors, friends and family and make sure their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working as we head into winter.”
The fire was jointly investigated by members of the Shrewsbury Fire Department, Shrewsbury Police Department and State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal and to the Office of District Attorney Joseph Early. Assistance was received from the Department of Fire Services Code Compliance Unit and other State Police units.