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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 was started by accident and that if smoke alarms in her home had been working she might have been saved.

Authorities identified the woman as Kim Anderson, 55, who was alone in the home at 4 Windsor Lane on Jan. 26. ­Arson has been ruled out as the cause, and investigators believe the fire was probably started by improper disposal of smoking materials, combustibles too close to the baseboard heater, or a malfunctioning electrical heater found behind the couch.

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

State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan and Gloucester Fire Chief Eric L. Smith said investigators found no evidence 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.

Lauren Dezenski can be reached at lauren.dezenski@
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