Fire that killed Gloucester woman was an accident; smoke detectors were not operating, officials say

The state fire marshal’s office has concluded that the fire that killed a Gloucester woman in her home was started by accident, and that smoke alarms that might have alerted her and firefighters to the danger were not functioning at the time of the Jan. 26 blaze.

Authorities identified the woman as Kim Anderson, 55, who was alone in the home at 4 Windsor Lane at the time. Arson has been ruled out as the cause, and investigators believe the fire was likely started by improper disposal of smoking materials, combustibles too close to the baseboard heater, or a malfunctioning electrical heater found behind the couch.


According to State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan and Gloucester Fire Chief Eric L. Smith, the investigation found no evidence that smoke alarms were operating in the one-story, single-family home.

“Working smoke alarms are your first line of defense in a fire, giving you precious moments to use your home escape plan,’’ Smith said in a joint statement with Coan.

Coan said research shows that contrary to popular belief, smoke does not wake people up.

“Many people incorrectly think that they will wake up to the smell of smoke, when in fact studies have shown you will not, and the toxic smoke from a fire will put you into a deeper sleep,’’ he said.

Anderson died of smoke inhalation and burns, according to the state medical examiner’s office.

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