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Fatal Falmouth fire in April caused by electrical malfunction, investigators say

A fatal fire that killed a 67-year-old woman at a single-family home in Falmouth in April was caused by an electrical malfunction, fire officials said.

Around 5:15 p.m. on April 12, firefighters responded to a blaze at 663 Gifford Street, according to a joint statement from Falmouth Fire Chief Michael Small, Falmouth Police Chief Edward A. Dunne, and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey. Firefighters pulled a resident, Mary Jo Nelson, from the flames, but she did not survive.

The blaze, which began in a first-floor bedroom, was caused by an electrical malfunction, fire investigators determined. All other possible causes were ruled out.


No working smoke alarms were found in the home, fire officials said.

“The only smoke alarm we found was a non-functioning one resting on top of an oil tank in the basement,” Small said. “We ask every resident to make sure you have working smoke alarms on every level of your home.”

The fire on Gifford Street was the first of two fatal fires that killed an older adult in Falmouth in April, fire officials said. An 82-year-old woman died following a fire on Crystal Spring Avenue on April 22, according to Jennifer Mieth, spokeswoman for the state fire marshal.

“All of us who have older relatives should ask to check their smoke alarms twice a year,” Ostroskey said. “Make sure they have fresh batteries if they need them, and replace them before they expire after ten years.”

Smoke alarms have the date they were manufactured on the back, fire officials said. If they do not have a date, it means they are over 10 years old.

The Falmouth fire and police departments, State Police, and the Cape and Island district attorney’s office investigated the fire, officials said.

Matt Berg can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @mattberg33.