NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — Investigators have determined the cause of a deadly fire at a New Bedford rooming house.
New Bedford Fire Chief Scott Kruger said investigators believe the fire started in a room on the second floor of Royal Crown Lodging on Acushnet Avenue.
Kruger said the fire appears to have been accidentally sparked by a microwave, which the tenant who lived there had used just moments before.
Two tenants died and at least five others were injured in the fire, which gutted the rooming house and displaced more than two dozen residents.
“Our thoughts are still with the families who lost loved ones, the residents who were injured and those who lost all their belongings,” Kruger said.
The first victim, identified as 59-year-old Manuel Moreira, lived on the fourth floor and was removed from the building Tuesday night. The second victim, who was removed from the building Wednesday afternoon, was identified Friday as 63-year-old Wayne Bourdon.
Bourdon was a longtime member of the Italian Progressive Club in Fall River, where he also worked as a bartender. Those who knew him told 12 News they knew something was wrong when he didn’t show up for his shift on Wednesday.
“We were hoping he’d walk in,” club member Charity Pontes said. “None of us had heard from him and we were hoping he’d walk down the stairs.”
“We called [him] and were like, ‘Let’s see who’s going to answer the phone,’ and nope” she continued. “My thinking was that, once he didn’t show up for work, it wasn’t going to be a good outcome.”
Ponte described Bourdon as a great friend who loved hockey and played guitar.
“It was devastating, especially the way it happened,” Pontes said. “You would never want your friend to die in a fire.”
Massachusetts State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey said electrical fires are the second-leading cause of residential fire deaths. He said appliances like microwaves and toasters should always be plugged into walls directly.
“Don’t use them if the device or the cord is damaged,” he explained. “Call an electrician if outlets are warm, discolored, or loose – these are signs that the outlet is not safe to use.”
The city launched a relief fund Friday for the residents who once called the building home. Donations can be made online or at the Inter-Church Council of Greater New Bedford on Unit Street.