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Overloaded extension cords seen as cause of Braintree fire

A set of overloaded extension cords caused an electrical fire that sent six people to the hospital in Braintree Thursday morning, state fire marshal’s spokeswoman Jennifer Mieth said today.

A motorized wheelchair was “plugged into an extension cord that was plugged into a second lightweight extension cord, which was plugged into an ungrounded outlet,” Mieth said in a statement.

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State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan is urging residents to take steps to prevent electrical fires, which include having electrical systems inspected and not overloading circuits. Officials also recommend regularly replacing smoke alarms, the statement said.

“Electrical fires continue to be one of the leading causes of residential structural fire deaths in Massachusetts,” Mieth said. “In 2013, five people died in electrical home fires in Massachusetts; it was the number two cause of fire deaths behind smoking.”

Braintree firefighters responded to the fire at 287 Commercial St. at 6 a.m. Thursday. Several residents were standing on their balconies to escape the smoke when firefighters arrived. They were brought to safety using a ground ladder, said Braintree Fire Chief Jim O’Brien.

Those residents still inside were led out the front door once firefighters were able to gain entry to the three-story building.

Six people were transported to South Shore Hospital and Quincy Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation. O’Brien said their injuries were not serious, and they have all since been released.

The American Red Cross provided assistance to 18 people displaced by the fire.

O’Brien said there “was heavy smoke damage” throughout the building, which had 16 units.

Catalina Gaitan can be reached at catalina.gaitan@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @catalina_gaitan.
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