"Fury of fatal Lynn fire hinders probe into its cause" by Andy Rosen Globe Staff January 04, 2016
The Lynn fire that claimed the lives of four people last month burned so intensely that it destroyed much of the evidence of how it started, state investigators said Monday as they announced that they were unable to determine a cause of the blaze.
The office of State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan named an electrical fire — which could have originated from hallway lighting — as a possible explanation, and noted that there were “no obvious signs of foul play.”
However, officials could not totally eliminate the possibility of arson or smoking as a cause of the Dec. 4 blaze.
A state investigation also found evidence that the fire began in a front stairwell that had no smoke alarms, a determination that will lead to a noncriminal violation for the landlord of the three-family home on Bruce Place.
Investigators found wiring and harnesses for smoke alarms in the building’s rear hallway but no devices, according to Coan’s office. Witnesses heard no smoke alarms from the hallways, officials said, leading officials to believe none were in place in the front, either.
The lack of smoke alarms “allowed the fire to get a huge head start before anyone was alerted to the early morning fire,” a news release from Coan’s office said. There were alarms in individual units.
“The smoke had to enter the individual apartments where those smoke alarms gave people the first warning signs of danger, leaving them little or no time to escape.”
Firefighters previously said smoke detectors were working in the building. A lawyer for landlord Jane Jamgotchian said he would not discuss the report publicly before reviewing it in detail, conferring with his client, and possibly speaking with Coan’s office.
The victims of the fire were Maritza Cruz Vizcaino, 42; Yasmin Cruz, 20; Sonia Cruz, 36; and Rodolfo Cruz, 28. Two other people were hospitalized after the fire, and 22 people were displaced.
In an interview, Coan said the report underscores the tragedy of the loss in the fire, whose death toll was the largest of any single incident last year.
“The importance cannot be overstated of operating smoke alarms,” Coan said. “Operating smoke alarms are our best defense to allow us that small window of opportunity . . . to escape a fast-moving fire.”
Related(?): Blast critically injures four at North Andover chemical plant
"Volatile chemical removed from plant" by Laura Crimaldi Globe Staff January 08, 2016
NORTH ANDOVER — Hazardous materials and bomb technicians removed a volatile chemical on Friday from a Dow Chemical Co. laboratory where an explosion injured five people on Thursday. The dangerous operation took hours and was described as among the largest and most complex in recent time.
A container of trimethylaluminum that had been compromised in Thursday’s blast was buried in sand in the back of a dump truck and driven away from the Willow Street facility under police escort just before 4 p.m. Friday.
Authorities said the State Police bomb squad planned to take the container, which is about the size of a basketball, to a remote location where it would be rendered safe.
“This is one of the more complex and larger hazmat incidents that we have responded to in recent times,” state Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan said.
He said the operation was complicated by the volatility of the chemical, which is used to make LED lights and electronics, its proximity to other dangerous materials in the facility, and the painstaking work necessary to recover it from the pile of debris left behind by the explosion.
The blast took place in a laboratory measuring 15 feet by 20 feet, located in the rear of the building. It was so powerful that it blew out a section of wall, North Andover Fire Chief Andy Melnikas said.
“This is a very successful outcome. It could have been a much more tragic incident,” Coan said. “This went well because of the professionalism and the training levels of the people involved.”
On Thursday, the fire marshal said the explosion was caused by the interaction of trimethylaluminum with water. The chemical is so explosive that employees use a fume hood to work with it, Melnikas said.
Once the chemical container was removed from the plant, investigators from Coan’s office and the North Andover Fire Department entered the building to start their inquiry into what happened, officials said.
“It’s so wide open here as to what the cause could be,” Melnikas said.
Coan said it was too early to rule out the possibility of criminal charges.
“There’s nothing that is leading us to think that this is something other than a very tragic industrial accident but again that’s at a very preliminary stage of the investigation,” he said.
The US Chemical Safety Board is considering whether to send personnel, Coan said.
The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration sent inspectors to the plant to examine whether any violations of federal safety and health standards contributed to the explosion, the agency said.
The plant is known as the Rohm and Haas Electronic Materials LLC facility and employs about 60 staffers and contractors, a Dow spokeswoman said. Dow said the injured workers are experienced, longtime employees.
The company also said it was cooperating with investigators and that the community is not at risk....
Okay, if you guys says so.
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