Victim of fatal fire on West River Street in Orange identified

Fire crews clean up after an overnight fire gutted the house at 99 West River St. in Orange on Wednesday, Dec. 13.

Fire crews clean up after an overnight fire gutted the house at 99 West River St. in Orange on Wednesday, Dec. 13. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By MAX BOWEN

Athol Daily News Editor

Published: 12-19-2023 3:21 PM

ORANGE — The state Department of Fire Services has identified the woman who died in the Dec. 13 house fire at 99 West River St. as 65-year-old Debra Marini.

Marini and one other resident of the home were hospitalized following a fire reported shortly before midnight. According to the State Fire Marshal’s Office, the resident remains hospitalized, but is expected to survive. Marini succumbed to her injuries on Thursday, Dec. 14.

A fundraiser on GoFundMe has been started to help the residents of the West River Street home, with a goal of raising $75,000. Over $57,000 has been raised so far. The fundraiser can be found at gofund.me/a52307d7.

Officials said wood stoves were used to heat the home, though the fire is not believed to be suspicious. The exact cause remains under investigation by the Orange Fire Department and State Police assigned to the state Fire Marshal’s Office.

Authorities have deemed the home a total loss and two other 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 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 additional resources to the scene and provide station coverage.

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

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Firefighters were able to locate one older adult who was injured and unresponsive. Firefighters extricated the woman from the building and began advanced life support. Both injured patients were transported to Athol Hospital and later to Boston hospitals.

“This is a very sad day for the victim’s loved ones and the community,” Young said in a statement on Dec. 14. “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.”

Max Bowen can be reached at 413-930-4074 or at mbowen@recorder.com.