Fatal fire in Cambridge broke out in electric baseboard heater

Fire officials identified an electric baseboard heater as the origin of Wednesday morning’s fatal fire in on Prospect Street in Cambridge, according to a statement from the state fire marshal released today.

Officials said the heater might have malfunctioned, had an electrical wiring failure, or someone may have set items on it that caught fire, according to the statement.

A woman in her 50s died in the fire, which broke out in an apartment at 240 Prospect St. apartment. She was believed to have been a guest of the apartment’s tenant. The name of the woman will be released after her family is notified, according to the statement.

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“A fire death is a terrible tragedy for the friends and family and the community as a whole,” said Cambridge Fire Chief Gerald R. Reardon in the statement.

The smoke alarms inside the apartment, and many others in the building, were disconnected or without a battery, said Reardon in the statement.

“A working smoke alarm coupled with an escape plan can double one’s chances of surviving a fire,” he said.

The three-alarm fire caused about $400,000 in damage to the building and $50,000 damage to the building next door at 238 Prospect St. Seven people were displaced, said the statement.

The fire was investigated by Cambridge firefighters and police, State Police assigned to the state fire marshal’s office, and Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan’s office, according to the statement.

This was the sixth-fire related death in Massachusetts this year, according to the statement.