Officials: Fatal Athol house fire likely started at gas stove

Multiple fire departments battled a three-alarm house fire at 92 Fern St. in Athol on Thursday morning.

Multiple fire departments battled a three-alarm house fire at 92 Fern St. in Athol on Thursday morning. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Fire departments providing mutual aid line Freedom Street for a three-alarm house fire at 92 Fern St. in Athol Thursday.

Fire departments providing mutual aid line Freedom Street for a three-alarm house fire at 92 Fern St. in Athol Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Firefighters rest in the shade after a three-alarm house fire was under control at 92 Fern St. in Athol on a hot Thursday morning.

Firefighters rest in the shade after a three-alarm house fire was under control at 92 Fern St. in Athol on a hot Thursday morning. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

A ladder truck pours water on a house fire at 92 Fern St. in Athol on Thursday morning.

A ladder truck pours water on a house fire at 92 Fern St. in Athol on Thursday morning. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

About 40 firefighters responded to a fire at 92 Fern St. in Athol on Thursday.

About 40 firefighters responded to a fire at 92 Fern St. in Athol on Thursday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/CHARLOTTE FORTES

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 09-08-2023 6:56 PM

ATHOL — The three-alarm fire that killed a woman at 92 Fern St. on Thursday morning was likely accidental and originated at a gas stove in the kitchen, according to the state Department of Fire Services.

When reached Friday, Jake Wark, a spokesperson for the Department of Fire Services, said the victim’s identity was not being released yet. On Thursday afternoon, Athol Town Manager Shaun Suhoski described the woman as being “very well-beloved in the community,” and active in town affairs and her church.

Athol Fire Chief Joseph Guarnera said a report was received at 9:44 a.m. on Thursday of a house fire at 92 Fern St. En route, firefighters learned one of the house’s occupants did not make it out. Entrance to the building was not possible, he said, due to the heat. He said the woman inside was later found dead.

Guarnera expressed condolences to the fire victim’s family on behalf of the Athol Fire Department.

“This is a very sad day for them and our community,” he said.

A second woman who was in the home was taken by ambulance to the hospital. According to Wark, her injuries were not considered life-threatening and she is expected to make a full recovery.

Two cats also died in the fire, according to Guarnera.

About 40 firefighters battled the blaze for about an hour, according to the state Fire Marshal’s Office.

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The fire is being investigated by the Athol Fire Department, Athol Police, State Police assigned to the offices of the state fire marshal and Worcester County district attorney, and District 8 fire investigators who are supported by the Department of Fire Service’s Code Compliance & Enforcement Unit. The fire departments of Orange, Phillipston, Petersham, Barre, Oakham, Gardner, Westminster, Winchendon and Fitchburg provided mutual aid at the scene. The fire departments of Templeton and Fitchburg provided station coverage.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@ recorder.com or 413-930-4120.