PITTSFIELD, Mass. (NEWS10) – Just after midnight Wednesday morning, the Pittsfield Fire Department was called to a two-story apartment complex on Appleton Avenue. A resident in the building had called 911 to report that their apartment was filling with smoke and that it smelled like an electrical fire.
When the first fire crews got to the building, residents were evacuating and directed firefighters to a downstairs apartment where they believed someone could have been trapped. Crews entered the apartment to find the tenant trying to extinguish the fire, with black smoke visible from floor to ceiling. The resident was immediately brought outside.
Fire crews found the source of the smoke to be a fire on top of an aquarium, which had started after the tenant fell asleep with a candle burning. The candle had melted and ignited the plastic top of the fish tank, which filled the first and second-floor apartments with thick smoke. Eventually, the candle burned through the top of the tank, extinguishing itself.
Residents in two of the three other apartments happened to be awake and were alerted by detectors in the two front entryways of the building. They banged on doors to wake others after calling 911, as no apartments had a single working smoke detector, according to firefighters.
“We cannot stress enough to use caution when burning candles (not when you are away or asleep) and having working detectors to wake you up in the night,” the Fire Department said in a statement. The American Red Cross assisted the one tenant with alternate housing and the other tenants were allowed to return home.