WESTON — Ross Giamo was the kind of guy who would show up in his Bobcat tractor offering to help with a neighbor’s home improvement project, handily fix broken-down cars, or teach young family members to drive a truck.
“If you needed help, you called Ross,” said his cousin, Kathy McCawley. “And if you had a question about life, you called Ross.”
The 69-year-old retired Weston firefighter was killed late Thursday night when a two-alarm fire, sparked by a failed extension cord, raced through his home on Wellesley Street, fire officials said. There were no other injuries.
“A lot of the senior members of the department knew him,” said Weston Fire Chief David Soar. “He was very popular.”
On Friday, the Weston fire station on Boston Post Road was draped with black and purple bunting and the flag hung at half-staff.
Firefighters responded to the scene at 11:55 p.m, but the flames were too intense for them to go inside before the fire was knocked down, said Captain Todd Munson.
Giamo was discovered inside the home and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The cause of the fire was the failure of a heavy-duty extension cord that powered a trickle heater, which was used on a truck in the yard and ran under several pieces of heavy equipment.
The fire began in a garage, according to a statement from State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan’s office, and flames spread to the apartment where Giamo lived.
Giamo lived in an apartment attached to the garage, Coan’s office said.
There were no working smoke alarms in the apartment, according to the statement.
Family and neighbors described Giamo as a fixture on his street, always honking hello and stopping to chat, or offering to look after their house.
“When I first moved in, I was making my driveway bigger and I put down some rocks, and he came over with his Bobcat and moved them for free,” said Peter G. Hill, 57, who lives across the street. “He was just a friendly and helpful person.”
McCawley said her cousin’s death was a blow not only to his family but to the whole neighborhood.
“Ross Giamo was a wonderful man, who knew an awful lot and shared his knowledge with everybody,” said McCawley, as she stood on the sidewalk across the street from his charred home.
“[My kids] called Ross, and he taught them how to drive a truck, taught them how to drive a trailer, taught them how to work a Bobcat, taught them how to paint. Just anything, Ross would know,” she said, describing him as a mentor. “There’s not enough people in the world like Ross anymore.”
Neighbors said they did not see or hear the overnight fire. Giamo’s home is set back from the street, ringed by trees, and fronted by another house where his mother lived until, neighbors said, she died about three years ago.
Haiying Ji, 40, who lives across the street from Giamo, said that her husband heard an explosion overnight but that when he looked out the window he did not see anything, so he went back to bed.
Another neighbor, who declined to give his name, said he was shocked to wake up to the news of the death. The street will not be the same without Giamo, he said.
“I think we’re going to miss him very, very much,” he said.
The fire was investigated by the Weston fire and police departments, State Police, the state fire marshal, and the Middlesex district attorney’s office, officials said.
May is National Electrical Safety Month, according to Coan’s office.
In 2013, five people died in electrical home fires in Massachusetts .
Evan Allen can be reached