ADAMS, Mass. — Firefighters were able to quickly knock down a West Street fire on Wednesday night.
Fire Chief Paul Goyette said the department responded to reports of sounding fire alarms and smoke in the air at about 7 p.m.. He said the fire started in a bedroom in the 5 West St. building, and firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze swiftly.
"Knockdown was not too bad. Our crews made an entry without aid of a hose line," Goyette said. "We did an initial search and found nothing and then backed out, got a hose line, and we had a visible fire and we knocked the fire down."
The fire on West Street on Wednesday evening claimed the life of an 88-year-old woman.
Eunice St. Hilaire was killed in the blaze that was started by a candle on a nightstand in her first-floor bedroom.
In a statement, State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan said, "remnants of a candle were found in the area of origin and all other possible causes were ruled out."
St. Hilaire reported lived alone in the single-family home. The Fire Department was notified of the fire by a life-alert type system that included a connection to a smoke alarm.
"This is the second fatal fire in the last two weeks caused by a candle," Coan said. "I would encourage people to switch to battery-operated candles especially in homes with young children, people with disabilities, or pets."
According to the Coan's office, there were 135 candle fires in Massachusetts in 2013 that caused two civilian deaths, 25 civilian injuries, six firefighter injuries and an estimated dollar loss of $4.3 million in damages.
"On behalf of the citizens of Adams and the members of the Fire Department, I offer my deepest condolences to the family. Fire is a terrible way to lose a loved one," said Adams Fire Chief Paul Goyette in a statement.
He added, "We had to dig out the nearest hydrant but had sufficient water from the engine until the hydrant connection was made. If it had been a larger fire, digging out the hydrant might have caused a delay at a time when seconds count. If you are able to adopt a hydrant, the Fire Department and your neighbors would be grateful for your assistance."
West Street is in a heavily settled neighborhood, near the town's center. Witnesses saw St. Hilaire being removed from her home on a stretcher; she was taken to the Northern Berkshire Campus of Berkshire Medical Center.
The fire was jointly investigated by the Adams Fire Department, the Adams Police Department and State Police assigned to both the Office of the State Fire Marshal and to the office of Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless. Assistance was received from an electrical expert, the Code Compliance Unit of the Department of Fire Services' Division of Fire Safety and State Police Crime Scene Services.
The statement from Coan's office was also sent on behalf of Capeless, Goyette and Adams Police Chief Richard Tarsa Jr.