By Staff

NEW BEDFORD (CBS) — A fatal fire in New Bedford was sparked by smoking materials, the Department of Fire Services said Friday. Tomas Gomez-Delacruz, 49, and Juan Macario-Mejia, 40, were killed as a result.

The fire broke out early Monday morning on Acushnet Avenue in two mixed-use residential and commercial buildings. “Smoking materials dropped from an upper floor ignited trash and debris next to a dumpster” in an alleyway.

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Forty people have been displaced.

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One firefighter also suffered minor injuries.

The Department of Fire Service said the building where the victims were found had no sprinklers and no central alarm system. Many of the smoke alarms were disabled and over a decade old. Also, “residents stored items in the rear stairwell blocking it as a means of escape.”

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Fire Chief Scott Kruger said, “This fire is a terrible tragedy and on behalf of the City of New Bedford and our firefighters, I offer my deepest condolences to the families. This fire clearly demonstrates that fire sprinklers buy time and time buys life. The deaths occurred in the non-sprinklered building and everyone in the sprinklered building were able to escape safely.” Staff