Walnut Street fire ruled accidental, extension cords cause East Providence blaze

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EAST PROVIDENCE — The cause of the fire 106 Walnut Street Saturday evening, March 2, was faulty extension cords and the blaze is being ruled as “accidental,” according to the East Providence Fire Department.

The fire, which began on the second floor, quickly spread to the rest of three-story structure. The worst of the flames were in the third floor steeple area of the Victorian-style building, once a one-family dwelling converted to a legal eight-room boarding house some time in the 1970s, said acting East Providence Fire Chief Oscar Elmasian

Chief Elmasian said there was significant smoke and water damage to the first two floors. Several electronic devices, including an electric heater, were running off a series extension cords stemming from the basement throughout the floors. The cords, which were spliced at points, “arced” creating the fire, which spread up the “balloon” or open framing of the structure.

“It was one of the most stubborn fires we’ve had in a while,” Chief Elmasian said of the blaze, which wasn’t fully controlled until after 3 a.m. Sunday morning.

Chief Elmasian, EPFD Fire Marshal James Bellamy and state officials determined the cause of the fire upon further inspection later Sunday morning. The fate of the structure has been turned over to East Providence Building Inspector Albert Quatrucci. Mr. Quatrucci was also on site during the fire Saturday night.

One firefighter was slightly injured battling the blaze, but all six occupants were not injured. Three firefighters were also trapped inside the house for a period of time, but escaped unharmed through a window with the assistance of one of the two ladder trucks on scene. Chief Elmasian said the department was fortunate not to have suffered a loss of life or serious injury.

In all, seven EPFD vehicles, including five engine companies, and upwards of 30 firefighters fought the flames. Residents of the home, which rests at the corner of Walnut and Cross Streets, were expected to be allowed back into the building to retrieve any possession they could salvage. The house was boarded up and unable to be occupied.

“At the end of the day, it all ended pretty good. We got a clean stop. No one was hurt. Everyone went home safely,” Chief Elmasian said. “Yes, six people were displaced, and that’s not great, but they’re here to tell us about it.”

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