LOWELL (CBS/AP) – As Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan is pledging to conduct what she expects to be a “long and thorough review” into a fire in Lowell that claimed seven lives, a relative of five of the victims is telling WBZ that there were a large number of fireworks inside one of the apartments.
Witnesses described hearing explosions during the pre-dawn blaze in an apartment building Thursday took the lives of four adults and three children.
Nine others were hospitalized with injuries not considered life-threatening.
Torn Sak, one of the victims identified by a family member, had a recent photo posted on his Facebook page showing a large stack of fireworks that he said was for his daughter’s birthday party.
At a news conference Thursday afternoon, State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said investigators have heard fireworks may have been stored in the building. He said they will be looking for evidence of the presence of fireworks as part of the search for the origin of the fire.
Coan said the investigation will also include looking into the history of building permits and work on the building, and a “very, very strong look” at the fire alarm system in the building.
“There is clearly conflicting information that is worthy of a very detailed review as to whether the fire alarms were operating at the time of the fire,” Coan said.
Sources told WBZ-TV’s I-Team that when first responders arrived at the fire scene they did not hear any alarms. The building’s alarm system is a hard-wired system that covers the entire building rather than individual battery-powered units.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports
City records reveal that in July 2013 there was a minor electrical fire in the liquor store located on the building’s first floor.
The fire marshal said investigators may have to use a crane to access areas of the building that have been compromised by damage.
Ryan said investigators have already contacted the building owner, Sanjay Patel of DK Ram LLC of Chelmsford.
Patel released a statement Thursday after the fire:
“Words cannot begin to express the sadness I feel for everyone affected by the devastating fire this morning. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who died and those who were injured. I have met with the authorities today and will continue to cooperate fully with the investigation into this tragedy. Out of respect for that investigation, as well as the victims of the fire and their families, I will have no additional comment at this time.”
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