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Daytime Fire on Prospect Street
Posted On: Nov 21, 2006


Boiler the cause of Brockton house fire


By Jennifer Kovalich, Enterprise staff writer

BROCKTON — An oil-fired steam boiler that had run out of water is being blamed for sparking a fire that heavily damaged a Prospect Street home Monday morning.

No one was injured in the 11:13 a.m. blaze at 190 Prospect St. The fire prompted a search of the home for an elderly man whose car was in the driveway and who was believed to be at home at the time of the fire, Deputy Fire Chief George Phillips said.

The man, who authorities did not identify, was located at a local nursing home.

“I'm not sure how long he's been in a nursing home,” Phillips said. “No one was home to monitor the boiler so it's hard to determine how long it had been running and how long this fire had been burning.”

Phillips said neighbors reported the fire after seeing smoke wafting from the home.

The deputy chief said the boiler is supposed to be equipped with a device to shut it off if there is not enough water, but those devices sometimes fail, he said.

“The boiler can turn red hot so the steam pipes that run through the floor get so hot they ignite the wood,” Phillips said.

A portion of the floor on the first floor of the home was burned through, Phillips said.

The fire started in the basement and traveled through the 2 1/2-story, single-family house to the attic.

The home, which has an open “balloon-frame” construction, had a draft around the chimney that pulled the fire up from the basement to the attic, Phillips said.

The flames also followed floor joists, damaging the first and second floors of the home.

“The guys did an excellent job keeping the fire damage to what it was,” Phillips said. “They worked very hard to get in there and try to head it off, all the different avenues of fire, in addition to searching for the occupant and at the same time trying to keep the fire in check.”

He estimated the fire caused $100,000 in damage. The home is not habitable, and power has been turned off there. Phillips said fire officials had been in contact with the resident's attorney regarding the fire.

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