Woman dies, another resident injured in Orange house fire

The Orange Fire Department responded to a three-alarm fire reported at 11:49 p.m. on Wednesday at 99 West River St.

The Orange Fire Department responded to a three-alarm fire reported at 11:49 p.m. on Wednesday at 99 West River St. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/BRYAN FAVREAU

Upon arriving at a house fire on West River Street on Wednesday, the Orange Fire Department found heavy fire in the rear of the home.

Upon arriving at a house fire on West River Street on Wednesday, the Orange Fire Department found heavy fire in the rear of the home. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/BRYAN FAVREAU

A home on West River Street in Orange was deemed a total loss following a three-alarm fire that began in the late evening of Wednesday, Dec. 13.

A home on West River Street in Orange was deemed a total loss following a three-alarm fire that began in the late evening of Wednesday, Dec. 13. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/BRYAN FAVREAU

This house at 99 West River St. in Orange was heavily damaged in a fire on Wednesday night.

This house at 99 West River St. in Orange was heavily damaged in a fire on Wednesday night. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Fire crews clean up Thursday after an overnight fire heavily damaged the house at 99 West River St. in Orange.

Fire crews clean up Thursday after an overnight fire heavily damaged the house at 99 West River St. in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

This house at 99 West River St. in Orange was heavily damaged in a fire on Wednesday night.

This house at 99 West River St. in Orange was heavily damaged in a fire on Wednesday night. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By MAX BOWEN

Athol Daily News Editor

Published: 12-14-2023 11:21 AM

Modified: 12-14-2023 5:52 PM


ORANGE — One older adult has died and a second remains hospitalized as a result of injuries sustained in a three-alarm house fire at 99 West River St. on Wednesday night.

Authorities have deemed the home a total loss and all four residents have been displaced. Several dogs were successfully rescued, while several more perished in the blaze, according to the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

The Shelburne Control Dispatch Center alerted the Orange Fire Department to the reported fire at 11:49 p.m. While firefighters were en route, the Orange Police Department arrived on scene and reported one occupant was trapped inside. Officers attempted to enter the building, but encountered heavy fire and smoke, according to the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

At this time, Shelburne Control requested mutual aid from nearby fire departments and a second alarm was struck. Due to the cold weather, heavy fire and extended operations, Orange Fire Chief James Young ordered a third alarm to bring more resources to the scene and provide station coverage.

Orange firefighters spoke with an injured party outside the home who provided a location of the trapped occupant, according to the State Fire Marshal’s Office. A hose line was deployed to the room and a search was conducted.

Firefighters were able to locate one older adult who was injured and unresponsive. According to the State Fire Marshal’s Office, firefighters extricated her from the building and began advanced life support. Both injured patients were transported to Athol Hospital and later to Boston hospitals.

The woman rescued from the home succumbed to her injuries on Thursday. Two other occupants, both adults, escaped safely.

“This is a very sad day for the victim’s loved ones and the community,” Young said in a statement. “On behalf of the Orange Fire Department, I want to express our heartfelt condolences on this terrible loss of a loved one and a family home.”

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The department reported a power outage in the area, and West River Street was closed between Pleasant Street and Walnut Hill.

The fire does not appear to be suspicious, according to the State Fire Marshal’s Office. Officials said wood stoves were used to heat the home, though the cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Orange Fire Department and State Police fire investigators assigned to the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Second fire in a week

Wednesday’s incident was not the first blaze Orange emergency personnel have responded to this week. In the early morning of Monday, Dec. 11, the Orange Fire Department responded to a call for a possible chimney fire at a home on 64 Eagleville Road. According to the Fire Department, Orange Police also responded and reported an active fire inside the home, which had been partially extinguished by a resident.

Mutual aid was provided by the New Salem, Athol, Phillipston and Erving Fire departments.

Crews began opening up walls and ceilings and extinguishing where the fire had extended, bringing it under control a short time later. No one was injured. The Fire Department recognized the efforts of one person, who woke up a family member after noticing the fire, saving lives and most of the home.

“While we would never recommend a homeowner or resident attempt to extinguish a fire themselves,” a statement from the Fire Department reads, “this resident did an excellent job trying to keep it at bay until we could get there, thus minimizing damage and extension to residence.”