AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – A fire that destroyed a multi-family home in Agawam started after a man fell asleep while smoking, investigators have determined. One resident and one firefighter were injured in the fire at 33 Walnut Street, and a total of eight people were forced out of their homes.
An investigation conducted by Deputy State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey and Agawam Fire Chief Alan Sirois determined that the fire started in a basement couch late Tuesday night. The man who had fallen asleep smoking suffered minor injuries, but he, along with all but one of the other residents, managed to make it out safely on their own. Firefighters had to rescue that one remaining resident, who lived on the third floor, and did not hear the smoke detectors going off.
They were able to rescue that resident just in time, because according to a news release from the state Department of Fire Services, the fire traveled quickly inside the walls. All firefighters were ordered to drop everything and exit the building, and once they were out, the fire reached “flashover;” the point where everything in a room hits ignition temperature at the same time.
“The training our firefighters have received to detect signs of flashover, and the quick decision making of the incident commander doubtless saved many lives yesterday,” Chief Sirois said.
The fire burned well into the morning hours, and a stretch of Walnut Street near the house had been closed for much of the day Wednesday.
Ostroskey said that smoking is believed to have caused two other major fires this week, one in Holyoke, and another in Plymouth in which one man was killed.