A wood stove sparked the Warwick fire that killed a mother and four of her children last weekend, investigators said Thursday.
Lucinda Seago, 42, and four children, ages 7, 9, 12, and 15, perished in the early Saturday blaze in the small town 30 miles north of Amherst. Her husband and another child escaped. The house was fully engulfed in flames by the time firefighters arrived.
The office of State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey announced that his office and local authorities determined that the fire began in a first-floor kitchen, where the wood stove ignited other items nearby.
“This is a small community of neighbors helping neighbors and our hearts are heavy with the loss the Seago family has suffered,” Warwick Fire Chief Ronald P. Gates said in a statement.
Ostroskey’s office noted that the freezing temperatures and the location of the home complicated the response to the fire. The house was on a narrow dirt road, on which fire trucks could not pass each other.
Firefighters had to shuttle water in from a nearby pond in a trip that went over the New Hampshire border and took about 45 minutes.
“I know the men and women of the Warwick Fire Department and the mutual aid companies fought this fire with everything they had,” Gates said.
Ostroskey noted that the Warwick fire was one of two fatal incidents involving heating equipment in recent days. A Milton fire, which killed 91-year-old developer Kenneth Guscott and his 87-year-old father-in-law, Leroy Whitmore, started when a space heater overloaded a power strip.
“It will be cold again this weekend, and I urge everyone to keep safety in mind while trying to keep warm,” the fire marshal said.
A funeral Mass will be said for Lucinda Seago and the children Saturday at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Czestochowa Church in Turners Falls.