Cause of Deadly Manchester (NH) Fire Ruled Accidental, Electrical in Nature

Paul Feely

The New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester


Nov. 23—The cause of a three-alarm fire that killed a woman and left a Manchester fire captain hospitalized with second- and third-degree burns over 35-40% of his body was accidental and likely electrical in nature, the state fire marshal’s office said Tuesday.

Kathryn Conn, 59, of Manchester died of smoke inhalation in the Nov. 6 fire in a six-unit multi-family building at 10 Dutton St. The manner of her death was ruled accidental by the state medical examiner’s office.

Capt. Steve DesRuisseaux became engulfed in flames during a flashover while rescuing a man from the second floor of the building, Manchester Fire Battalion Chief Dave Fleury said.

Fleury said Capt. DesRuisseaux’s actions were “nothing short of heroic.”

Firefighters rescued six people, including a baby, officials said. Two girls, two men and a woman were rescued from the third floor and a man was helped down from the second floor by ladder, officials said. But DesRuisseaux’s breathing device got caught on a ladder, trapping him after he became engulfed in flames.

Lt. Scott Brassard climbed the ladder to try to free DesRuisseaux. Firefighter Joshua Charpentier noticed heavy fire coming from the second floor and decided to knock the ladder away from the building to prevent further injury to Capt. DesRuisseaux.

Lt. Brassard sprained his ankle as a result of the 10- to 15-foot fall, but continued to battle the blaze throughout the incident, seeking medical treatment after the fact.

Capt. DesRuisseaux was transported by AMR ambulance to Elliot Hospital, then to Massachusetts General Hospital by UMass Memorial Lifeflight, officials said. Another person, a civilian, was sent to a Boston hospital for respiratory injuries.

DesRuisseaux continues to recover from his injuries at Massachusetts General Hospital following multiple surgeries.

State Fire Marshal Sean Toomey reminds residents that extension cords can overheat and cause fires when used improperly. Overheating is usually caused by overloading or connecting appliances that consume more watts than the cord can handle.

“Check to ensure that the extension cord is properly rated for the products that are plugged into it,” Toomey said in a statement. “Damaged extension cords can also cause fires. Cords shouldn’t be pinched by furniture, forced into small spaces, placed under rugs, located near heat sources or attached by nails and staples.”


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