Fatal Barnstable blaze ruled accidental – victim identified

– State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey, Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe, and Barnstable Fire Chief Francis M. Pulsifer said the cause of the April 29, 2018 fire at 164 Millway in Barnstable is accidental. The District Attorney’s Office has identified the elderly man who died in the fire as 86-year old Owen Duff Sr. He was rescued and revived by Barnstable firefighters and transported to Mass. General Hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries.

The fire began in the kitchen where an oil filled space heater was plugged into a lightweight extension cord. The extension cord was pinched by furniture. The investigators have determined that the cause of the fire was a failure of the extension cord either because it was overloaded or pinched. Heat generating appliances need to be plugged directly into the outlet.

Members of the Barnstable Fire Department and State Police assigned to both the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Office of the Cape and Islands District Attorney jointly investigated this fire.

Chief Pulsifer said, “This is a tragic end to a long life and on behalf of the Town of Barnstable, I offer our condolences the Duff family.” He added, “I want to commend the efforts of the Barnstable and mutual aid firefighters who rescued and tried to save the man as well as fight the fire.”

State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said, “There were no working smoke alarms in the home. So far this year there have been 23 fire deaths over one-third, 39%, have been older adults.”
Media release furnished by Mass Department of Fire Services; photo by John P. Carroll/CWN file

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