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Faulty wiring responsible for Belchertown house fire

Fire Capt. John Workman said Monday the blaze originally was believed to be a chimney fire based on a passer-by reporting smoke pouring from the chimney at 5:48 p.m.

But Workman said investigators have concluded that faulty writing near the fireplace caused the blaze.

Workman said the wire likely heated up inside its metal sheathing and then began to char the surrounding wood and joists of the home’s balloon-frame style construction before burning inside the walls and ceilings.

“It burned extensively without ever presenting itself inside the home,” Workman said.

The residents, Francisco and Lori Alves and two children, escaped unharmed with their pets. The Pioneer Valley Red Cross is providing assistance, though the family may be staying with friends and family, Workman said.

Workman said a preliminary estimate of the smoke, fire and water damage was $60,000 to $80,000. Crews remained on scene overnight and into Monday as they concluded the investigation.

Firefighters quickly brought the fire under control, but there were many places it was burning, Workman said.

“We spent another few hours tracking down every spot it extended to,” Workman said.

The home had functioning smoke detectors, Workman said, but they never went off because the fire was confined inside the wall.

Workman said the residents should feel fortunate that they got out when they did. Had they remained oblivious to the danger until the smoke detectors sounded, they would have had little time to escape safely, perhaps 60 to 120 seconds, he said.

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