Westfield neighborhood mourns loss of man after deadly fire

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A Westfield neighborhood is mourning the loss of a 64-year-old man.

Tom Oleksak told 22News, it all started early Wednesday morning when he woke up to a strange odor. “I went outside, and I noticed the odor was much heavier, so I started walking around, looking, see what I could see, and that’s when I noticed the smoke coming out of Fred’s house,” he said.

When Oleksak walked outside, 23 Family Lane was completely engulfed in flames. “It was honestly, a little horrifying. I’ve never experienced seeing anything like that,” he said.

The fire started around 1:00 Wednesday morning, and took nearly 45 minutes to put out. The State Fire Marshall determined a living room sofa had caught fire from a lit cigarette, the flames then spread throughout the small house.

Firefighters found a 64-year-old man in the kitchen. He was rushed to Noble Hospital, where he later died.

Westfield Fire Department Captain Paul Lentini told 22News it was a tragedy for a neighborhood, and for the fire department. “It’s always tough when we lose someone, we show up on scene, we see a house that has a blaze like this, and we try to get to them as soon as we can,” he said.

State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan told 22News investigators found burnt pieces of smoke alarms, but could not determine whether they were working properly. Coan said firefighters didn’t hear any alarms sounding when they arrived

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