Smoking determined to be cause of fatal Fall River fire

(Photo submitted by Mandy Medeiros)

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — The cause of a fire that claimed the life of a Fall River man earlier this month has been determined to be “improper disposal of smoking materials,” fire officials announced Thursday.

Emile Saucier, 61, died on May 7 after flames broke out inside his third-floor apartment on Covel Street.

Investigators determined the fire started in a reclining chair in the kitchen. According to fire officials, Saucier was a heavy smoker who rolled his own cigarettes and there was evidence of smoking materials where the fire started.

“In 2016, nine people have died in fires started by smoking materials, two in Fall River alone,” said State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey. “While we cannot say for certain if there was a working smoke alarm inside this man’s apartment, in every other smoking fire death this year, there were none. Everyone needs working smoke alarms that are less than ten years old, smokers even more so.”

Officials said the downstairs tenants first heard smoke alarms for a few minutes at about midnight but found no smoke in the hall or basement. They were awakened by the alarms again around 5:30 a.m. and saw the doorway of the third-floor apartment in flames.

Officials said the damage to the building was estimated at $150,000.

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