North Adams family escapes home as heater burns

This story has been modified to correct the identity of the building's owner.

NORTH ADAMS -- A family of three escaped unharmed Monday morning after a heater in the kitchen of their Bracewell Avenue home caught fire.

A tenant of the apartment above the fire called 911 when smoke alarms began to ring throughout the building at 4:48 a.m., according to North Adams Fire Director Stephen Meranti.

The fire was contained within a small "toe-kick" heater located underneath a kitchen cabinet, Meranti said, but it spewed smoke throughout the three-apartment complex. The cause may have been a blower fan within the heater that stopped working, Meranti said, capturing all of the heat produced inside and sparking an accumulation of dust.

Firefighters escorted all of the tenants, including a woman and her two children, out of building and put out the fire with an extinguisher, Meranti said.

Meranti credited the building owner, Aaron Tower, with recently upgrading the smoke alarm system, saying "it could have been something worse."

The "toe-kick" heater -- a small, electric heater that rests near the ground -- was in compliance with code, according to Meranti.

"It was installed properly according to the manufacturer's recommendations," Meranti said.

The tenants of the apartment were only forced to leave for the day as the smoke was cleared out and the apartment cleaned, according to Meranti.


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