By Sue Ellen Woodcock
A working smoke detector would have made all the difference early Sunday morning when a well-known attorney perished in a smokey fire at 162 Winthrop Shore Drive.
Attorney Charles Balliro, 68, was trapped in a second floor bedroom where he was found unconscious on the floor. He was taken by ambulance to Massachusetts General Hospital where he passed away, apparently from smoke inhalation.
Fire Chief Paul Flanagan said the first alarm sounded at 1:37 a.m. after a passing motorist saw smoke coming from the beachfront home. The motorist called 911 and then ran up onto the porch to bang on the door. The victim’s son answered the door and said his father was upstairs.
“I’m very proud of how quickly the victim was located,” Flanagan said.
There was no smoke detector working in the house, something Flanagan is upset by.
Just in the past year the Winthrop Fire Department and the American Red Cross have held two events to replace and install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Flanagan said they have done installations in 120 homes all without a cost to the homeowner. After installation the homeowners are given a home safety lecture.
“I’m disappointed a call wasn’t made for this house,” Flanagan said, clearly upset that a smoke detector would have made a difference in saving a life.
Capt. Edward McDonald called the second alarm for the fire which brought in crews from Revere, Chelsea and MassPort.
Smoke detector batteries should be changed at least once a year and detectors need to be swapped for new ones every 10 years.
The American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign has a goal to reduce fire deaths by five percent in a year. Balliro’s death is the 23rd fatality in the state resulting from a fire.
“Sometimes that the figure for an entire year,” Flanagan said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. The State Fire Marshal deemed the fire “accidental”. Flanagan said the origin of the fire appeared to be in the victim’s room where it was contained.