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Lawrence Fire Caused by Unattended Space Heater 

LAWRENCELawrence Fire Chief Brian Moriarty and State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey announced today that last night’s fire on Margin Street was accidental and began when an unattended space heater ignited combustible items in a bedroom. The two-family residence did not have working smoke alarms, and 10 people were displaced.

Lawrence Mayor Brian DePeña joined with Chief Moriarty and Fire Marshal Ostroskey to offer safety tips for residents using space heaters – and remind everyone to make sure their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working properly.

“As we enter the heating season, remember that space heaters need space,” said Mayor DePeña. “Keep drapes, bedding, and anything that can burn at least three feet from a space heater, and always turn it off when you leave the room or go to sleep.”

“Space heaters should always be plugged directly into a wall socket, not an extension cord or power strip,” said Chief Moriarty. “Place them on a flat, level surface where you won’t bump into them or trip on the cord. And if you’re buying a space heater, select one with an automatic shut-off switch that turns the unit off if it’s knocked over.”

“Investigators did not find working smoke alarms at the scene,” said Fire Marshal Ostroskey. “All residents escaped safely, but that might not have been the case if they had been sleeping. Take a minute today to check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Replace the batteries if necessary, and replace the alarm if it’s more than 10 years old.”

Officials said portable space heaters were involved in at least a dozen fires last year, with a total estimated loss of more than $900,000. Officials also reminded the public that unvented kerosene space heaters are illegal to sell and use in Massachusetts: the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning from these devices is too great. For more home heating safety tips, including Spanish-language materials, visit

The investigation into last night’s fire was conducted jointly by the Lawrence Fire Department and the State Police Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit assigned to the State Fire Marshal’s office.