Fire at elderly apartment complex "intentionally set"

Posted at: 04/12/2013 9:38 AM
Updated at: 04/12/2013 5:11 PM
By: Abigail Bleck

LENOX, Mass. -- Boarded up windows and charred siding are evidence of the Thursday evening fire at the Curtis Home.  From the outside, the damage looks minimal but emergency crews say it's a different scene inside.

"It was total chaos (when the smoke alarms went off)," explains resident Barry Connelly.  "I was in the farther part of the hall where the smokes was making its way."

One fire fighter and two residents were injured in the fire--a woman critically.  Neighbors tell NewsChannel 13 the fire started in the apartment of a 57 year old woman named Kate.  And that's who, neighbors believe, was in critical condition and transferred to a hospital in Worcester for treatment.

"That's all that's on my mind," adds Connelly.

Investigators say the fire was intentionally set but won't label it arson.  They also want to assure the public that no one is at risk;  law enforcement knows where the person responsible is.

 In all, 59 people and several businesses were displaced.  Damage to the old, brick building is estimated at $500,000.

"Everybody got out, that's the big thing," said another resident, Tom Fiorini.

The big question on all the residents' minds now is when can they go back home.   According to Lenox Fire Chief Dan Clifford, Monday at the earliest.

"It's going to be a while.  There is significant smoke damage and there is significant water damage...we need to get air quality readings."

The Red Cross is assisting residents with temporary housing who don't have family or friends with whom they can stay.  Fire investigators say the case is "ongoing."