Update: Sheffield Fire Chief David J. Ullrich, Sheffield Police Chief Eric R. Munson III, and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said the cause of the Jan. 13, 2021 fatal fire at 1715 Hewins Street in Sheffield was accidental.
Investigators determined that a failure of the chimney and wood burning furnace caused the fire that took the lives of two residents. The Berkshire District Attorney's Office has identified the victims as 75-year-old James Boltrom and 66-year-old Dorene Boltrom.
"On behalf of our firefighters and the town of Sheffield, I offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the victims," Chief Ullrich said. "We're all neighbors in this small town."
The fire in the log cabin style home started inside the chimney and spread to nearby combustibles. Investigators were able to find several areas where smoke and heat breached the chimney and piping system from the furnace and entered the home. There was a significant amount of wood and kindling next to the wood-burning furnace in the basement.
"Sadly, there were no signs that this home had working smoke alarms," Ullrich said. "Smoke alarms provide the early warning needed when you may have less than three minutes to wake up and escape."
Members of the Sheffield Fire and Police Departments and State Police assigned to both the Office of the State Fire Marshal and to the Office of the Berkshire District Attorney jointly investigated the fire. Assistance was received from other State Police Units and the Department of Fire Services' Code Compliance Unit.
Original post, Jan. 13, 2021; 2:54 p.m.
SHEFFIELD, Mass. — The State Police Detective Unit assigned to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office and the State Fire Marshal's Office are jointly investigating a structure fire in Sheffield that killed two people.
Wednesday morning around 5:49 a.m, multiple neighbors called 911 and reported a structure fire at 1715 Hewins St. Multiple agencies responded minutes later to find the home fully engulfed in flames.
Caanan, Conn., Sheffield, Great Barrington, Egremont, and New Marlboro Fire Departments knocked down and extinguished the blaze.
After gaining access to the home, first responders discovered the remains of two adults inside.
The State Police Detective Unit assigned to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office, Sheffield Police, and the State Fire Marshal's Office are leading the investigation. While the fire remains under investigation, preliminary evidence does not indicate that the fire is suspicious in nature.
Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington, Sheffield Police Chief Eric Munson, and State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey all responded to the scene. Southern Berkshire Ambulance and the Berkshire County Sherriff's Office also provided assistance on scene.
The State Medical Examiner's Office took custody of the remains to perform autopsies and positively identify the victims.
The Massachusetts State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit, Massachusetts State Police Crime Scene Services Section, and troopers from the State Police Lee Barracks are assisting in the active investigation.