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Faulty wiring likely to blame

Recorder/Paul Franz
Residents of 18 Pratt St in Millers Falls Erving side are now homeless due to an early morning electrical fire which although mostly contained by fire crews left the building uninhabitable. Tasha Rivera wraps a blanket around Beanie, both are now homeless

Recorder/Paul Franz Residents of 18 Pratt St in Millers Falls Erving side are now homeless due to an early morning electrical fire which although mostly contained by fire crews left the building uninhabitable. Tasha Rivera wraps a blanket around Beanie, both are now homeless

ERVING — A Monday morning fire at a three-story apartment building has displaced four families.

The fire, believed to be caused by an overloaded electrical system, was first detected at 5:30 a.m.

All of the occupants of the 18 Pratt St. apartment — approximately 20 on Monday morning — exited the building safely with no injuries, said Erving Fire Capt. Ryan Betters. The fire caused minimal damage to the residents’ belongings and the building is still structurally sound, he said.

But Electrical Inspector Thomas McDonald shut down the building’s power, for fear that problematic wiring in the building could cause another fire. The three families that live there are staying in temporary housing while the building’s electrical system is assessed, he said.

And water to the property was shut off as well, said Fire Chief Almon Meattey, displacing another family that lives in a trailer behind the building.

Residents of the apartment building were awoken by smoke detectors at about 5:30 a.m. The fire, which had started in the basement, was moving up to the first floor’s front exterior wall in the building’s main corridor. Smoke on the first floor was also beginning to move to the upper two floors.

The Erving Fire Department, the first on the scene, arrived soon after and put out the fire within 10 to 15 minutes, said Betters. Back-up units from neighboring towns also arrived to provide assistance.

Betters believes the fire was “electrical in nature” — the result of an overloaded wiring system that melted and short-circuited some of the wires running up the wall. It likely began late Sunday night, he said.

“We believe it was in the wall for a while, and just sat there, just kind of smoldered in the insulation, and the insulation held the fire from going anywhere,” said Betters.

The American Red Cross will put up the displaced families at a Greenfield motel for a few days, said Roberto Rivera, a first-floor resident.

After that, he isn’t sure what his family will do or when the building will be habitable again.

“It sucks because it’s the holidays,” said the 42-year-old father of four.

His son, 19-year-old Danny Rivera, said that the family wasn’t surprised by the electrical fire.

“We’ve had problems with the electricity pretty much ever since we moved in,” he said. “The stove didn’t work anymore. Fuses were popping for no reason.”

The building’s landlord, Martin Sheridan, could not be reached for comment Monday.

You can reach Chris Shores at:
cshores@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

This poor pup in this picture looks miserably cold.

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