Bad Wiring Suspected In Blaze That Killed Firefighter

The deadly fire that killed a Lancaster firefighter began in the basement where he perished Saturday, and investigators are looking at wiring as a possible cause, sources said yesterday.

``It started in an area where you would typically find wiring,'' said one source close to the investigation. ``Based on interviews (with residents of the Mill Street building), there may have been some Mickey Mouse things done in terms of extension cords and things like that.''

Services will be held today for volunteer firefighter Martin ``Marty'' McNamara, 31, who died in the smoke-filled basement of the seven-unit apartment building early Saturday, leaving a pregnant wife and two young daughters. Three other firefighters were injured in the blaze.

McNamara, who lived in Clinton, was waked yesterday at the Philbin Comeau Funeral Home and he will be buried today with full Fire Department honors following a funeral Mass at 11 a.m. in St. John's Church in Clinton.

Firefighters were on all three floors of the large wood-frame building when flames began shooting over the heads of four firefighters in the basement, investigators said.

Three Clinton firefighters were able to escape the junk-filled basement but McNamara was trapped. Clinton Deputy Fire Chief John McLaughlin, who tried to rescue McNamara, remains hospitalized.

Sources said the fire apparently started in an area between the basement ceiling and the first floor, surprising the men in the basement with a sudden mass of flames and smoke.

``The firefighters in the basement didn't see any flames and then all of a sudden it was blowing over their heads,'' said the source. ``That puts the fire between the basement and the first floor.''