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Investigators Continue To Probe Cause Of Fatal House Fire



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Investigators Continue To Probe Cause Of Fatal House Fire

By Andrew Gorosko

Fire investigators this week continued their probe into the specific cause of an apparently accidental house fire that killed a Sandy Hook woman last week.

A spokeswoman for the chief state medical examiner said that an autopsy determined that Marianna Mormando, 55, of 16 Philo Curtis Road accidentally died due to smoke inhalation.

Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company Chief Bill Halstead said that after firefighters arrived at the 16 Philo Curtis Road home following the 12:22 am fire call on December 30, they simultaneously worked to extinguish the blaze and to search the two-story Colonial house for anyone who might be inside the burning building.

The firefighters soon found an unconscious Ms Mormando lying on the floor of a second-story bedroom. Firefighters brought her outdoors and started cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps members rushed Ms Mormando to Danbury Hospital where she later was pronounced dead.

A pet Rottweiler dog was found dead near Ms Mormando. A pet cat also died in the fire. Another pet cat, which had escaped the fire, was found alive near the house several days later.

Ms Mormando’s husband, Robert, 53, who lived at the now-uninhabitable house with his wife, was not at home when the fire occurred. After arriving at the fire scene on the morning of December 30, Mr Mormando was transported to Danbury Hospital for an evaluation, officials said. He was later released from the hospital.

Chief Halstead, who is the town fire marshal, said that town fire investigators, town police, the state fire marshal’s staff, and insurance company investigators are probing the cause of the fatal blaze.

Chief Halstead said that the fire started near a cloth-covered, upholstered couch in a rear family room on the first level of the 2,165-square-foot building, which was constructed in 1988. Fire investigators have reduced to three the possible causes of the fire and are now seeking to pinpoint that cause, he said.

The fire chief declined to be more specific, saying, “I’m not going to speculate.”

Ms Mormando was a smoker, but it is unclear if smoking caused the fire.

The insurance company that provides coverage for the property plans to have an electrical engineer review the possibility of an electrical problem causing the fire, Chief Halstead said.

The fire chief said that although the house contained various mountings for smoke detectors, firefighters found no smoke detectors in use at the building. Thus, the heavy smoke that the fire generated did not trigger any smoke alarms. “We could not find any smoke detectors,” he said.

Chief Halstead estimated that the fire caused what probably will amount to more than $100,000 worth of property damage. Although damaged by fire, smoke, and water, the structure is considered repairable, he said.

The fire chief noted that the house where the fire occurred contained many combustible items. “They had a lot of stuff, “ he said.

Workers for a fire restoration company this week surveyed the damage at the fire scene where the blue house has been boarded up to protect it from the elements. Philo Curtis Road connects Pole Bridge Road to Riverside Road.

Firefighters were dispatched to the burning building after a resident on nearby Elana Lane placed a 911 call reporting flames coming from a house.

All five local volunteer fire companies responded. Mutual aid from other towns also was summoned. When firefighters arrived at the house, they noticed that a window was open in the room where the victim was then found.

After arriving, firefighters were able to control the blaze in a matter of minutes.

An obituary published in The Hartford Courant on January 6 explains that Ms Mormando formerly lived in West Hartford. A memorial service is scheduled for January 8, at 10 am, at St Thomas The Apostle Church at 872 Farmington Avenue in West Hartford.

Ms Mormando was an animal lover, gardener, and cook.

The Animal Center, telephone 203-270-0228, is seeking a person to adopt Dusty, the female pet cat which was found after the fire. The cat is in good health.

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