Fire victim’s condition improves
NORTHAMPTON — When Sara Noseworthy heard her 4-year-old chocolate Labrador, Buddy, barking in the early morning hours Saturday at River Run Condominiums, she thought he simply wanted go outside.
She told him to stop, but when he continued barking for several minutes, Noseworthy looked outside and saw that the unit across the lawn from hers was on fire.
“All I could think of was Barbara” Marshall, Noseworthy said Monday afternoon, sitting outside her condominium at 80 Damon Road. “She is my best friend. ... I think of her as a sister.”
Marshall, 62, was burned in the fire at her condominium, unit 1101, which was reported at 2:31 a.m. Saturday. She was first taken to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield and later Saturday was transferred to the Massachusetts General Hospital Burn Center in Boston Her condition was upgraded Monday from critical to serious.
Noseworthy described Marshall as a “family-oriented” woman with two sons who joined the U.S. Marines. “She believes in fighting for the country,” said Noseworthy. “She’s a great help to people.”
She said Marshall worked as an aide at JFK Middle School.
Noseworthy, 50, said she has lived at River Run for 15 years and Marshall has been there for 22 years.
“They’ve been best friends since day one,” said Noseworthy’s daughter, Hannah, 18.
Noseworthy said she and Marshall spoke on the telephone every evening. She recalled one night several years ago when they were talking on the phone while watching the ABC series “Lost,” and Marshall told her she had to go.
A few moments later, during a particularly suspenseful scene, Noseworthy said she heard a loud bang on the window. She opened the door, and Marshall said, “Gotcha.”
Marshall was the only person injured in the fire. She was carried from her burning condominium by another River Run resident, Matt Moran, who returned home from his 31st birthday party to find smoke and flames coming from a unit near his. Moran’s sister dialed 911.
The fire gutted the inside of Marshall’s condominium and burned the exterior of the building. It took about 30 minutes for the firefighters to control the flames, said Assistant Northampton Fire Chief Duane Nichols, who was among those on the scene. He said it appeared that the fire began on the first floor in the living room.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the state fire marshal’s office and the Northampton police and fire departments. Officials said they had not determined the cause as of Monday afternoon.
Nichols, as well as Jennifer Mieth, spokeswoman for the state fire marshal’s office, said that part of the investigation will involve interviewing the victim.
A woman who answered the phone at the firm that manages River Run, Classic Management of East Longmeadow, said the company is not commenting on the fire and what is to be done with the burned unit, then added that there are “no updates” at this time. She declined to identify herself.
The unit is now boarded up. Northampton Building Commissioner Louis Hasbrouck said Monday that there was no structural damage to the building. Unit 1101 will be gutted and renovated with new wiring, and the part of the front roof cut away by firefighters will need to be repaired, he added.
“The building is structurally sound and except for unit 1101, safe for occupancy,” he wrote in an email.
Noseworthy said she eventually plans to host a fundraiser in the form of a tag sale, bake sale or barbecue to raise money to benefit her friend. She added that she hopes to visit her in the hospital later this week.
For now, Noseworthy said, she is glad to know that her friend is still alive. “That’s all you can say right now.”
Gena Mangiaratti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.