Unsafe charging determined to be cause of Rowe house fire


Staff Writer

Published: 03-03-2023 2:59 PM

ROWE — Officials determined the fire at a three-story home at 39 Cross Road that occurred on Feb. 24 was caused by the unsafe charging of an electronic device.

Jake Wark, public information officer with the state Department of Fire Services, explained the charging device that started the fire was covered by a pillow.

“Devices with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries — items like laptops, tablets, phones, e-cigs, etc. — should always be charged using the manufacturer’s charging device,” Wark wrote in an email. He also advised that charging devices should be “placed on a hard surface like a table, not a couch or a bed, and never covered by bedding or other items. These items often heat up while recharging, and if that heat is trapped by blankets, pillows or other items they can catch fire.”

Homeowner Tom Danek said his children and their cousins were home alone when the fire started. Two of his daughters were cooking in the kitchen when they heard a fire alarm go off upstairs. He explained they were surprised because the fire alarm in the kitchen often goes off.

Upstairs, they found a bed on fire and attempted to put it out. When a fire extinguisher and water did not help, they got all the occupants out of the house and called 911.

“I wanted to thank the people on the scene first. They got the fire knocked down really fast,” Danek said. “The ones closest to the scene are the true saviors.”

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Danek said the main structure of the home was saved by the firefighters and the family plans to rebuild the house. A restoration crew has already begun work.

“If it was another 15 minutes it would have been all over,” Danek said of the firefighters’ quick response.

The five-person Danek household is currently staying with family. They have ordered a three-bedroom camping trailer to live in while the house is being rebuilt.

Danek said that many of the irreplaceable items, such as family photos, in their house have been saved with some smoke damage. Unfortunately, all the possessions of their three daughters were lost, as their bedrooms were all destroyed in the fire.

When the fire occurred, the family made sure to leave the front door of the house open. All their six cats and a dog survived the fire, despite having several pets unaccounted for in the days following the fire. Their goldfish could not be saved.

“You gotta keep moving forward,” Danek said with optimism. “We are pretty tough up on the mountain.”

Bella Levavi can be reached at 413-390-4579 or blevavi@recorder.com.