, Salem, MA

May 8, 2013

Fatal fire in Salem ruled accidental

By Bethany Bray

---- — SALEM — Investigators have determined the early morning fire that claimed the life of a 53-year-old Beacon Street resident Sunday was accidentally caused.

The two-alarm fire started in the second-floor apartment of 5 Beacon St., between a desk and a closet, state Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said yesterday.

Firefighters found Michael Lyness dead in the second-floor apartment after the fire broke out around 3:30 a.m. Sunday.

“Whether the cause was a candle left burning or improper disposal of smoking materials cannot be further determined, but all other possible causes have been eliminated,” Coan said in a joint press release with Salem fire Chief David Cody.

Officials say the second-floor apartment where the fire started had no smoke alarms, and smoke alarms in the building’s basement and first-floor apartment were not operational.

A tenant on the first floor escaped the blaze, and there were no other reported injuries. The home, which was owned by Lyness, sustained heavy fire damage on the second floor and smoke and water damage on the first floor.

Yesterday, Cody used the incident to stress the importance of having working and up-to-date fire alarms.

“Every fire death is a terrible tragedy and the North Shore has seen more than their fair share of fire deaths this year,” Cody said in yesterday’s release. “The sad part is that many of these fire deaths could have been prevented with working smoke alarms.”

The Beacon Street fire was jointly investigated by the Salem Fire Department, detectives from the Salem Police Department, Massachusetts State Police assigned to Coan and Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett’s Office.