Second Victim Found in Fatal New Bedford Fire
NEW BEDFORD (WBSM) — A second victim has been recovered today from the scene of Tuesday’s deadly fire in New Bedford’s near North End, authorities have announced.
The person was recovered as investigators used heavy equipment to dig through the rubble of the heavily-damaged four-story, 32-unit rooming house at 1305 Acushnet Avenue. Their identity has not yet been released.
Earlier in the day, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said in his weekly appearance on WBSM that one person was still unaccounted for after the fire, which had already claimed one fatality and displaced almost 30 people, many of who suffered injuries in the fire, many severe. Some had even jumped from the building in order to escape the flames and smoke.
The first victim was identified Wednesday morning as 59-year-old Manuel Moreira, a resident of the rooming house.
“On behalf of the New Bedford Fire Department, I want to express our heartfelt condolences to Mr. Moreira’s family and loved ones,” New Bedford Fire Chief Scott Kruger said. “It was deeply important to all of us at the scene that we recover him with respect and dignity as soon as it was possible to do so.”
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, authorities said, with the New Bedford Fire Department, New Bedford Police Department, State Police Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit assigned to the State Fire Marshal’s office, and State Police assigned to the Bristol District Attorney’s office taking part in the investigation.
“It’s a really lousy situation,” Mayor Mitchell said in his WBSM appearance. “Thanks to increased inspections from the fire department that has really bolstered their inspection efforts, we’ve seen a decline in structure fires, but the ones we’ve had have been devastating.”
“We’ve seen a number of them right around that same area on Acushnet Avenue, including other fatal fires,” he said.
In October 2019, 85-year-old Louise Barboza was killed in a fire at 354 Coffin Avenue ruled accidental after a towel placed on top of a gas heater ignited.
In April of 2021, a four-story building at 1279 Acushnet Avenue – a block away from the scene of Tuesday’s fire – burned in a fatal fire attributed to the improper disposal of smoking materials in a building that had a lack of sprinklers, disabled fire alarms and a blocked stairwell. Tomas Gomez-Delacruz, 49, and Juan Macario-Mejia, 40, were both killed in the fire.
In December 2022, 16 people were displaced following a fire in an apartment over a florist shop at 1364 Acushnet Avenue, also just a block away from the location of Tuesday’s fire.
A Christmas morning fire in 2022 at 311 Coffin Avenue displaced eight people, including four children as firefighters battled the blaze in temperatures that had dropped down into the teens.