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  1. #1
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    Angry Another Tragedy that $1.50 could have prevented

    This fire occurred the next Town over from me, the paper got the details right, except for the fact that the first due company only had 2 firefighters on board. Would it have mattered, doubt it....

    Town grieves loss of family; cause of blaze unknown

    By MARC PARRY
    STAFF WRITER
    DENNIS - As helpless neighbors looked on, the deadliest Cape Cod fire in more than 30 years claimed the lives of three young children and their parents in Dennis early yesterday morning.


    The fire yesterday morning in Dennis claimed the lives of Destiny Becotte, top left, Jordan Mero, 9, Nathan Mero, 2, and there parents, Ronald Mero, 29 and Cherie White, 24.

    The victims likely perished long before firefighters reached their home at 35 Blackberry Lane shortly after getting the call at 1:33 a.m., acting Dennis Fire Chief John Donlan said.

    The two-alarm fire had consumed so much of the two-story duplex by that time that firefighters arrived, they could not immediately go inside.

    "It was an inferno," Donlan said at the scene yesterday morning, the charred building behind him. "They never got out."

    The victims were burned beyond recognition. Officials yesterday did not release their names. They are expected to make public that information today after the state medical examiner's office confirms the identities, Donlan said.

    Family and friends yesterday identified the victims as a young couple, Cherie White, 24, and Ronald Mero, 29. The children were their 2-year-old son, Nathan Mero; Ronald Mero's 9-year-old son from another relationship, Jordan Mero; and White's 5-year-old daughter from another relationship, Destiny Becotte.

    A body believed to be Ronald Mero's was the only victim found near an exit. Firefighters located that body just inside the doorway to his home, an indication, Donlan said, that he tried to get out.

    White also had an 8-year-old daughter who lives in Harwich with her father, who has custody of the child. Family members declined to identify her.

    The fire engulfed this town in grief. Neighbors whose children played games with the victims grieved on their street. Colleagues grieved at the South Dennis Dunkin' Donuts where White was an assistant manager and the West Dennis realty company where Mero worked on a landscape and construction crew.

    Students grieved at the Ezra H. Baker Elementary School, where Destiny had just started kindergarten, and at the Nathaniel H. Wixon Middle School, where Jordan was a fourth-grader who looked forward to taking after-school karate lessons.

    "We'll never get to see them grow up," Cherie White's mother, Andrea White, said of her grandchildren.

    Friends sobbed yesterday at a news conference held at Dennis Fire Department headquarters, where officials said state and local investigators had yet to determine the cause of the fire.



    Cause unknown

    By last night, Donlan said the fire is believed to have originated in the living room, but what started it remained inconclusive. The investigation will continue today.

    State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan surveys the ruins at 35-37 Blackberry Lane, Dennis, scene of yesterday's fatal fire. Health officials have not inspected the home in at least 20 years, records show.

    Investigators did not rule out arson but said they had no reason to suspect it.

    In fires thought to be accidental, investigators look at a range of possible causes, from electrical problems to discarded cigarettes, state Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said. Donlan said some of the people who lived in the wood-frame duplex smoked.

    Investigators think, after a preliminary analysis, that the home lacked working smoke detectors, Coan said.

    "And that contributed to this very terrible tragedy," he said.

    Donlan described the fire as the deadliest in his 30 years with the department. Dennis has not seen a multiple-fatality fire since two people died in a 1988 blaze, according to Capt. Bob Tucker.

    The victims had moved to the Blackberry Lane duplex in May. The second apartment in the building was empty at the time of the fire because the previous occupants had moved out last Thursday. Sandy Peters, who lived there with her daughter, said she was evicted because she had "too many cats."

    Exactly when yesterday's fire started is unknown.

    First call at 1:33 a.m.

    But the response was set in motion at 1:33 a.m., after neighbor Marjorie Dunn woke up and saw, from her window, the glow of a fire across the street. She called for help on her cell phone.
    By the time the first engine arrived, the neighbor directly across the street, Starr Elliott, looked outside to see what was going on.

    The duplex was glowing orange but eerily silent.

    There were no screams, no cries, "not a word," Elliott said, choking back tears. "It was hot. It was very, very hot. We opened our door and you could feel it.""We went up to the police and said, 'There's kids in there!' They couldn't even get in there," said Elliott, who had attended Cape Cod Regional Technical High School with Ronald Mero.

    "What I saw is a family get killed," said April Jeffers, who also lives across the street. "I watched the house burn in front of my eyes. Couldn't help them, couldn't do anything for them."

    The basement, the first floor, the second floor, the roof - everything was burning.

    It was 1:45 a.m. when a Brewster fire engine and its heavy rescue vehicle rolled out of the station on Route 6A and roared off to help fight the fire. By the time they arrived the blaze had weakened the roof structure, which had collapsed into the second floor and onto the first floor. The Yarmouth Fire Department also responded to the scene.

    Firefighters put out the blaze in about half an hour, Donlan said.

    By 3 a.m., the victims' relatives had arrived, called by friends who had been notified of the fire by neighbors.

    Police officers kept them clustered at the entrance to Blackberry Lane. Neighbors brought out blankets and chairs.

    But there was no comfort to be had.

    "When they came down and said, 'We're sorry, there are no survivors,' there was pandemonium," said Fran Basilica, also of Blackberry Lane.



    Bodies recovered

    Firefighters recovered all five bodies. But they do not know how the victims died, or when they died, or how their last minutes were spent.
    The fire could have been burning for hours before firefighters arrived, officials said.

    In most home fires, people die from smoke inhalation, not the fire itself, Donlan said.

    Firefighters discovered the bodies throughout the house, Tucker said. One, thought to be the elder Mero, was inside the front entrance. They found two in the rear bedroom upstairs. And they found two on the living room floor downstairs.

    Four cats also died.

    Friends and neighbors remembered the victims fondly yesterday.

    White was "a very family-oriented person," who want to give her kids "a better life than what she had," said Michelle Perchik, a colleague at Dunkin' Donuts.

    "Her whole life revolved around her kids," said the 18-year-old Yarmouth resident, who like others in the close-knit group of employees at the store used to baby-sit little Nathan.

    Elliott, the family's neighbor, said Jordan, her son and another boy down the street were "like the three Musketeers." They would ride bikes, skateboard, make ramps and jump over them."

    Yesterday afternoon, friends built a small memorial under a tree next to the burned house. Beneath the roses and daisies was a red Boston Red Sox T-shirt signed by Jordan's friends.

    Staff writers CYNTHIA MCCORMICK, EMILY C. DOOLEY, JOHN LEANING and ETHAN ZINDLER contributed to this report.

    Cape Cod Times

    This is the Home page link for the paper. There are several other related articles.
    Last edited by hfd66truck; 10-05-2004 at 08:58 PM.


  2. #2
    Forum Member stm4710's Avatar
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    I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

  3. #3
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    I cannot and will not comment on this fire.

  4. #4
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    Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    I cannot and will not comment on this fire.
    George, Why?

    Your thread covering similar issues

    In September you posted a similar story. Maybe it's inappropriate to have used your name in the title, but I know its a pet peave of yours. My intention was a comment on the smoke detector issue and how once again, for a $1.50, lives could have been saved....

    Dave

  5. #5
    Forum Member firenresq77's Avatar
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    Here is some info from the story on the FH.com front page.......

    Also Tuesday, the duplex owner, Cape Realty Inc., released a statement suggesting that Ronald Mero had disabled the smoke detectors so he could smoke inside the home, in violation of the rental agreement.

    Cape Realty released an inspection report signed April 28 by Mero and White, in which they agreed to maintain the smoke detectors and not to smoke inside the building.

    In the company statement, Shawn Horan of Cape Realty said a subcontractor who worked with Mero told him that Mero smoked on the job.

    ``It is our contention that the smoke detectors were disabled by the Tenant and that the Tenant may have been smoking in the unit,'' the statement said.

    Neighbors did not report hearing a smoke alarm.

    Since the detectors were destroyed, Donlan said fire officials can't know what role, if any, the detectors played in the blaze.

    ``Whether (the smoke detectors) were maintained, whether they functioned, again those are unanswered questions that will probably never be answered,'' he said.
    Seems like there's a whole lot of suggesting going on by the property owners........

  6. #6
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    Cape Cod Times

    This is the Home page link for the paper. There are several other related articles.


    77,

    CYA...big time.

    According to the Dennis by laws, rental units are inspected annually and must have working detectors. Yet the first article says no inspection in over 20 years.....

    Dave

  7. #7
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    Fire Chief: Cause Of Blaze That Massachusetts Killed Family May Never Be Known



    Associated Press

    DENNIS, Mass. (AP) -- A fire that killed a family of five here burned so intensely that any possible clues to its origin were incinerated and its cause may never be known, according to the acting fire chief.

    Acting chief John Donlan said Tuesday that there was nothing left inside the Blackberry Lane duplex where firefighters found the bodies.

    ``Everything in this house was reduced to ashes,'' he said. ``There's nothing left. It makes it difficult, when it's that damaged, to find a cause.''

    Fire investigators have used accelerant-sniffing dogs to rule out arson, he said.

    Killed in the fire were Cherie White, 24, and Ronald Mero, 29; their son, Nathan Mero, 2; Jordan Mero, 9, Ronald Mero's son from another relationship; and Destiny Becotte, 5, White's daughter from another relationship.

    Also Tuesday, the duplex owner, Cape Realty Inc., released a statement suggesting that Ronald Mero had disabled the smoke detectors so he could smoke inside the home, in violation of the rental agreement.

    Cape Realty released an inspection report signed April 28 by Mero and White, in which they agreed to maintain the smoke detectors and not to smoke inside the building.

    In the company statement, Shawn Horan of Cape Realty said a subcontractor who worked with Mero told him that Mero smoked on the job.

    ``It is our contention that the smoke detectors were disabled by the Tenant and that the Tenant may have been smoking in the unit,'' the statement said.

    Neighbors did not report hearing a smoke alarm.

    Since the detectors were destroyed, Donlan said fire officials can't know what role, if any, the detectors played in the blaze.

    ``Whether (the smoke detectors) were maintained, whether they functioned, again those are unanswered questions that will probably never be answered,'' he said.

    Donlan said the fire was likely so intense because it burned unnoticed for an extended period. The two-story, wood-frame duplex was engulfed in flames when the first fire crew arrived around 1:30 a.m., officials said.

    A middle school and elementary school that two of the fire victims had attended offered counseling Tuesday for their classmates and friends. Meanwhile, neighbors mourned their loss.

    ``We lost one of the best families on the street,'' neighbor Starr Elliott told the Cape Cod Times. ``They were a wonderful family and they were great kids.''

  8. #8
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    Some more details.....nice to see the rental company be so supportive by accusing the victims.

    Witness: Detector worked at Dennis
    home in August


    By MARC PARRY and EMILY C. DOOLEY
    STAFF WRITERS
    DENNIS - A smoke detector that failed to save the lives of a young family Monday was working two months earlier at a party celebrating the son's second and the father's 29th birthdays, a close family friend said yesterday.

    "We all heard it," family friend Jaime Klosowski said of the alarm triggered by food cooking in the family's Blackberry Lane home.

    Klosowski's comments - along with an inspection report given to the Times by the company managing the property - were the first public evidence that the home where five people perished in a fire Monday contained a functioning smoke detector at some point.

    A day earlier investigators had said they found no evidence of smoke detectors in the duplex apartment where the fire took place, though they did salvage one missing a battery from the other unit in the duplex, which was vacant during the fire.

    State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said on Monday that the lack of working smoke detectors "contributed to this very terrible tragedy."

    Meanwhile, fire officials yesterday said they do not expect to ever know conclusively what caused the fire, the deadliest Cape Cod blaze in more than 30 years.

    The fire raged with such ferocity that it incinerated every scrap of evidence that might yield a clue about its origin, said acting Dennis Fire Chief John Donlan.

    "There's no evidence to support any specific cause," Donlan said. "And there probably will not be any."

    If there were any smoke detectors, he said, they were "obliterated."



    Evidence not conclusive
    The two-alarm fire wiped out an entire household. The dead were Ronald Mero, 29; his girlfriend, Cherie White, 24; their son Nathan, 2; Mero's son from a previous relationship, Jordan, 9; and White's daughter from another relationship, Destiny Becotte, 5.
    The fire destroyed almost everything in the family's half of the two-story duplex. No kitchen cabinets remain. No clothes. No light fixtures. No furniture. No sheet rock.

    When state and local investigators looked for a possible cause - the electrical wiring, the heating system, a cigarette - everything came out inconclusive, Donlan said.

    Some friends and family members said knowing the cause of the fire would do little to help. Others expressed frustration .

    "It doesn't change anything," said Cherie White's father, Ronald White. "Finding out would be nice, but they're still gone. It doesn't bring them back."

    Yesterday, Ronald and wife, Andrea White, gathered up the strength to drive by the Blackberry Lane house where their daughter perished.

    They had heard mementos and memorials were piling up in the yard where Cherie White and Ronald Mero used to watch their children play. "We wanted to see them," Ronald White said.

    Ronald White works at Hyannis Marina, where co-workers have been donating sick time to help out the proud grandfather who bought a mini van just so he could cart the kids around on weekends.

    "People are just dragging," co-worker Amy Duquette said. "It's tough to find dry eyes."

    Klosowski said knowing the cause of the fire would help her stop imagining it in her mind.

    "It would help me to stop thinking about how it happened," said the Dennis 19-year-old, who worked with Cherie White at Dunkin' Donuts on Route 134 in South Dennis.

    "And it would help me to stop thinking about if they were suffering, and if they were asleep when it happened."



    August birthday party
    Klosowski said a group of the family's friends were at the fire scene Monday night when they started talking about how the smoke alarm had gone off not long ago.
    She said the alarm sounded in early August at a birthday party for Nathan and Ronald Mero. Klosowski was one of about 40 guests at the party, she said.

    It was late afternoon when the smoke from burgers and other cooking set off the device, which was in the hallway right next to the kitchen, she said.

    The story fits with documents given to the Dennis police and fire departments by Cape Realty Inc., the company that managed the Blackberry Lane duplex.

    An inspection of the house conducted before the tenants moved in at the end of April shows it had two working smoke detectors, according to the inspection report, a copy of which was given to the Times yesterday by Cape Realty.

    The company contends that Mero disabled the smoke detectors and that he may have been smoking in the duplex, according to a statement from Shawn Horan of Cape Realty. The statement was given to the Dennis police and fire departments and dated Oct. 5.

    Both Ronald Mero and Cherie White did smoke cigarettes in the house, said Klosowski, who spent so much time there she considered it her "second home."

    But Klosowski said she could not imagine them disabling the smoke detectors.

    "I can never think of her doing that, just because they were so protective of the children," Klosowski said.

    Although Cape Realty claims there were two smoke detectors, Dennis Fire Capt. Bob Tucker said the house should have had three: one on the second floor, one on the first, and one in the basement.

    But no one would be penalized because of the presumed lack of a third detector, Tucker said.

    "I have no physical proof besides that statement that there were two there," he said, referring to the Cape Realty documents. "That really isn't verifiable to me. There may have been a third one they may have missed."

    Funeral arrangements remained incomplete yesterday because the state medical examiner's office had yet to release the victims' bodies, Ronald White said.

    Cape Cod Times Website

  9. #9
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    just a guess, but when it went off at the birthday party, they removed the battery and never put it back in.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Bones,

    We will never know.....they even have left the cause as undetermined, too much damage.

    Based on where the victims were found, it appears that only one may have been alerted to the fire. Otherwise it sounds like the damage was so severe, that other than determining where it started, the investigation will be inconclusive.

    The Dennis brothers seem to be doing OK. Bad scene all the way around.

    Dave

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    Good point, Bonesy.
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

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    I turned on the news after being away for a week on vacation (Mrs. Gonz and I celebrated our 25th anniversary in Cancun) and saw the coverage of the funerals of the victims as the lead story.

    Ironically.. in a lot of the instances of fatal fires.. you will find batteries in the TV remotes, but not the smoke detectors.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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