“With the heating season upon us, it is especially important homeowners and renters check their detectors. Unfortunately, we see too many homes without working detectors, which are critical to keeping the homeowner safe. It is important to test and make sure the detectors are in good working order. I also can’t over emphasize that natural gas, propane and oil-fired appliances should be serviced annually to make sure they are in good working order.” -Lunenburg Fire Chief Pat Sullivan
Lunenburg Fire Department
FITCHBURG — Occupants of a Highland Avenue home were uninjured following a 2-alarm fire early Saturday morning.
Fitchburg Fire Capt. Anthony Castelli said the call for the fire came in at 5:39 a.m. for a fire at 65 Highland Avenue. The blaze was contained to the basement and first floor of the two-and-a-half story home. Despite the fire, the structure is intact and no determination had been made on the damages.
An eyewitness said heavy fire was showing when firefighters arrived on scene.
While the home’s occupants were able to escape without injury, one firefighter sustained minor injuries. They did not require transport to an area hospital. Castelli added several pets including reptiles perished in the fire.
Leominster and Lunenburg provided mutual aid at the scene.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, Castelli said.
LUNENBURG — Local natural gas and electricity provider Unitil is joining with the Lunenburg Fire Department to encourage people to check their carbon monoxide detectors, whether at home or their place of business.
Fire Chief Pat Sullivan said it is required by law to have a minimum of one working smoke and carbon monoxide detector on every level of one’s home.
“Unfortunately, we see too many homes without working detectors, which are critical to keeping the homeowner safe,” Sullivan said.
Cars and trucks, small gasoline engines, stoves, lanterns, burning charcoal and wood, gas ranges, water heaters and all heating systems produce carbon monoxide. Sullivan said many of the calls his department receives are for gas grills, generators and even automobiles that are operated too closely to the home or garage.
“Especially during storms, people place these items under a deck or near open garage doors, but carbon monoxide can quickly seep into the home,” he said.
During 2022, Unitil responded to 78 carbon monoxide calls for all its service territories. Alec O’Meara, media relations manager for the company, said the majority of their calls were due to vents blocked by snow and ice, out of date carbon monoxide detectors and faulty appliances such as cooking stoves, boilers and water heaters.
“It is important to test and make sure the detectors are in good working order. I also can’t over emphasize that natural gas, propane and oil-fired appliances should be serviced annually to make sure they are in good working order,” Sullivan added. The fire chief noted that the town of Lunenburg has a program that provides free smoke and carbon monoxide detectors for its senior citizens that have financial hardship.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas found in combustion fumes that can cause sudden illness and death to occupants. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year more than 400 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning not linked to fires.
“Over a third of poisonings occurs from December through February. If a homeowner’s detector alerts them or they suspects elevated levels due to headaches, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting or confusion, they need to leave the home immediately and then call 911,” said O’Meara.