EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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July 4, 2013

Smoking cause of fatal fire earlier this year

HAVERHILL — Authorities say there were no working smoke alarms in the room where a woman perished in a fire earlier this year at 41 Bricket Hill Circle, a sprawling upscale condominium/townhouse community off of North Avenue.

State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan and Haverhill Public Safety Director Alan DeNaro said the cause of the Jan. 28 fire was the improper use of smoking materials. They said the fire took the life of 45-year old Elizabeth Morgan, who lived in the one-family home.

“One of the greatest tragedies of this fire is that there were no working smoke alarms on the upper levels of the home,” Coan said in a press release issued this week by his office. “The one working smoke alarm in the basement alerted the victim’s son and helped him escape. Smoke alarms provide the earliest warning of danger giving people time to get out safely.”

Jennifer Mieth, public information officer for the Department of Fire Services, said the smoke alarms in the building were all hard-wired and interconnected.

“The basement alarms were operable, the first floor one was disconnected, and the second floor one did not work – specifically why could not be determined given what little was left of it,” she said.

On Jan. 28, just before 11:30 a.m., an 83-year-old woman who lived in an adjoining townhouse was getting ready to head to her office job when her front doorbell rang. She said the teenage boy who lives next door at 41 Brickett Hill Circle said his home was filled with smoke and to call 911. She said the boy, who had no shoes on his feet and walked across the snow for help, told her he was sleeping in the basement and that his mother had taken his sister to school earlier in the morning and he didn’t know if his mother was home or not.

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