Fatal Whitemarsh Fire an Accident, Preliminary Investigation Shows
Officials believe the fire was caused by a space heater.
The house fire that claimed the life of a Conshohocken woman and injured her husband late last month was likely an accident, Whitemarsh Fire Marshal Scott Lynch told Patch.
Barbara Conicello, 71, lost her life in the blaze, while her husband James Conicello, 70, was taken to Bryn Mawr Hospital for the treatment of burn injuries.
Although Lynch's office is still finalizing its official report, as are county and state investigators, Lynch said it appeared that the fire was started by a space heater that was placed too closely to furniture on the first floor of the home. Firefighters originally responded to the house, located at 367 Roberts Avenue in Whitemarsh's Cedar Heights neighborhood, on the afternoon of Oct. 27, and located James Conicello outside.
By that time, the fire had spread extensively through both floors of the house, and firefighters said they could not locate a safe point of entry. When they finally beat back the flames, they found Barabara Conicello's body in a downstairs bedroom.
The Conicellos had recently celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary and are the parents of ten children, one deceased, many of whom were emotionally embracing across the street from the fire. Barbara Conicello's son-in-laws described her as an "all around good person" and a "sweetheart."
Lynch called Conicello's death a "tragic loss," and wished to remind residents to take proper precautions when using space heaters.
"Use extreme caution as homeowners, to keep space heaters away from combustibles such as curtains, clothing, furniture, and cardboard boxes," Lynch said. "Make sure they're in good working condition and are not overloading electrical outlets."