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Massive fire in New Bedford leaves two dead and five injured, officials say

A firefighter at the scene of a fatal fire at a rooming house on Achushnet Avenue in New Bedford.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

A second victim was recovered Wednesday from the rubble of a rooming house in New Bedford, where a massive fire the day before caused “catastrophic damage,” according to the state fire marshal’s office.

One man was pronounced dead Tuesday, and five others were taken to a hospital for treatment of serious injuries suffered in the fire at the 31-unit house located at 1305 Acushnet Ave., officials said.

Authorities identified the man who died as Manuel Moreira, 59, who lived on the top floor of the four-story building, according to Bristol District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III’s office.

The second victim was not immediately identified Wednesday. Their body was found after investigators used heavy equipment to sort through debris and remove parts of the building, which partially collapsed.


The recovery came after an intense day of search and rescue.

Crews arrived at the scene on Tuesday around 3:15 p.m. to find that some residents had jumped from the building, and some were hanging from windows, the fire marshal’s office said in a statement.

“Firefighters immediately began conducting rescues over ground ladders and five people were transported from the scene for medical care,” the statement said.

The injured residents were taken to St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford. As of Wednesday, one was listed in serious condition and another was transferred to Rhode Island Hospital in critical condition, officials said.

The cause and origin of the fire remain under investigation.

More than two dozen people were put up in motels Tuesday night, New Bedford Fire Chief Scott Kruger told reporters at the scene, according to WJAR-TV.

Firefighters battled a deadly fire at a rooming house on Achushnet Avenue in New Bedford on Tuesday.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Jeff Hall, a spokesperson for the Red Cross of Massachusetts, said the organization was ready to assist the residents who were hospitalized.

“We’ll meet with them as soon as they’re released,” Hall said Wednesday.


Crews brought the blaze under control by about 6:30 p.m. but were still extinguishing hot spots hours hours later, said Jake Wark, a spokesperson for the fire marshal’s office. The state sent a rehabilitation unit to support firefighters at the scene and a hazardous materials team to monitor air quality, he said.

Some 80 firefighters from local communities rushed to assist, officials said.

“Their collective efforts kept the fire from spreading to several nearby buildings and the community,” Wark said.

Firefighters at the scene a deadly fire at a rooming house on Achushnet Avenue in New Bedford.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney and on Instagram @emilysweeney22.