Two Killed in Massachusetts Blaze

A short in a baseboard heater is blamed.


LAWRENCE, Mass. --

A Lawrence mother died while trying to save her son who was trapped inside their burning home early Monday.

Mother, Son Die In Fire

Fire officials said the 51-year-old mother and her husband had escaped the blaze that broke out just after midnight at their 15 Leeds Terrace home when she realized her 19-year-old son was still inside the house.

Fire officials identified the mother as Linda Cahalane and her son as Sean. Neighbors said the son had a mental disability.

"The husband made it out, but the female and the son didn't," said Lawrence Fire Chief Peter Takvorian.

Officials said the mother ran back inside the house to rescue her son, but both perished in the blaze, overcome by heavy smoke and fire.

Neighbors said the son nearly made it out of the house and was at a front bedroom window, but appeared too afraid to jump out.

"The son was trying to climb out of the window. They were telling him to jump out. The mother went back inside to get him," neighbor Susan Ngatha said.

"He must have been frightened to death because his mother wanted him to jump out the window and he wouldn't do it," neighbor Roger Twoomey said.

Firefighters tried to save the pair and administered CPR but their efforts failed. Both mother and son later died at the hospital.

There was no immediate word on the father's condition.

"He was a wonderful, wonderful boy, and his mother was just a gem of a lady," neighbor Marilyn Twoomey said.

Investigators said an electric baseboard heater in the kitchen short-circuited starting the fire.

"A fire in an electrical baseboard system like that is something rare. We don't often see that as a cause of a fire," Takvorian said.

The family's daughter was not home at the time of the fire.