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The Boston Globe

Metro

Lowell fire tied to an electrical failure

Official says flames spread widely in concealed space

LOWELL -- The intense fire that gutted an apartment building here and killed seven people, including five members of one family, was sparked by an electrical failure and burned undetected for “a long period of time” before a rush of oxygen fed the flames and turned the building into an inferno, the state fire marshal said Tuesday.

“When the fire took hold of the building, it did so with a vengeance, with heavy, black, choking smoke,” said Fire Marshal Stephen Coan. “You can’t walk through that. You can’t survive that.”

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