View Full Version : Mass. Firefighter Trapped, Killed in Fire at Home - Timothy Wargo
11-04-2002, 08:44 AM
Mass. Firefighter Trapped, Killed in Fire at Home
LITTLETON, Mass. (AP) -- A firefighter died after he was trapped in a blaze that erupted in his own home.
Firefighters were called to the home just before 10 p.m. Friday, but could not reach Timothy E. Wargo in time. Wargo, 42, a seven-year veteran, was taken to Emerson Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
"He's one of those people that's always been there, always first to respond to the aid of others,'' said Littleton fire chief Alexander F. McCurdy. "He was always there, he was always willing to help out.''
Wargo was alone in the one-story home, where he lived with his wife, McCurdy said.
The fire was brought under control quickly, but there was very heavy smoke inside the house, said state Fire Marshal Stephen Coan.
The cause of the fire was not known and fire officials were investigating.
Members of the fire department, which is made up of 45 full-time and volunteer firefighters, were hit hard by the loss, McCurdy said.
Wargo, a full-time firefighter and EMT who had moved to Littleton from Harvard, was the first Littleton firefighter to die as a result of a fire in recent memory, he said.
"It was a very difficult scene. They performed remarkably well under the circumstances,'' he said.
11-04-2002, 09:11 PM
Colleagues Mourn Firefighter Lost in Littleton Blaze
Fatal fire leaves community shaken
Courtesy of The Lowell Sun
LITTLETON Investigators are still not sure what kept a popular volunteer firefighter from escaping his burning home before he was overcome and killed by smoke Friday night.
Timothy E. Wargo, 42, of 24 Woodland Drive, was a seven-year veteran of the town Fire Department, where he was known for his professionalism and "unforgettable" laugh, according to Chief Alex McCurdy.
Wargo was pronounced dead due to smoke inhalation at Emerson Hospital in Concord shortly after the 10 p.m. blaze that gutted his one-story home on a peaceful street near Long Lake.
Crews pulled Wargo from the home after bringing the fire under control in 30 minutes.
State investigators remained at the scene yesterday trying to determine a cause of the blaze, which started in the kitchen, according to State Fire Marshall Stephen D. Coan, who was in Littleton Friday night to provide assistance.
McCurdy said officials have no reason to consider the blaze suspicious.
Two police officers and neighbor Gil Finch were the first at the scene but could not get into the home due to heavy smoke, Finch said. Wargo's wife, Stacy, was also at the scene as rescue crews arrived, Finch said. She was not home when the fire started, McCurdy said.
Finch said his wife cared for Stacy as he and police officers searched unsuccessfully for a way into the home. They knew Wargo was inside but did not hear him call out or make any noises. Nothing but thick, rolling smoke could be seen inside even after Finch and the officers smashed several windows and emptied several fire extinguishers into the home.
"The whole house was just heavy, heavy, heavy thick smoke you couldn't see anything," Finch said. "The officers did everything they could to get in but with that smoke you just couldn't."
McCurdy said Wargo was found in the living room and investigators do not know what kept him from escaping the house. While Wargo may have tried to battle the blaze initially, McCurdy said he was well-trained and would have left when the situation got out of hand. Smoke may have disoriented Wargo and prevented him from escaping, according to McCurdy, who noted that smoke can be just as dangerous, or more so, than the actual fire.
Wargo was unconscious when crews pulled him from the home and performed CPR, Police Chief John Kelly said.
Because the fire took a life, state police detectives attached to District Attorney Marsha Coakley's office are also involved in the investigation, Coan said.
The Wargo's cat also perished in the fire, but their German shepherd dog escaped, McCurdy said.
Full-time Littleton firefighter Ryan Monat, who often worked with Wargo, said Wargo was always willing to fill in for any full-timers who needed a day off.
Monat attended intermediate EMT training with Wargo and became a close friend in the three years the two worked together, Monat said.
Wargo was "happy go lucky" around the fire station, and would never stay in a bad mood for long, Monat said. McCurdy said Wargo was extremely professional on the job, but still not shy about joining a practical joke or two around the station.
Monat said Wargo enjoyed vacationing, and would do anything for anyone. He took Monat to his first-ever Red Sox game earlier this year, Monat said. The Sox lost, but Monat said it was still an experience he would not forget.
Wargo's wife didn't frequent the station, but her husband often spoke of her and brought in coffee cake she made, Monat said.
Monat said the last fire he battled alongside his friend was in early 2001. Most of the calls the department responds to are medical, which is why Wargo's training as an EMT was so important, Monat said. McCurdy said Wargo had recently been trained to operate fire apparatus as well.
Wargo was born in Pennsylvania and lived in Harvard before moving to Littleton several years ago. Stacy grew up in the couple's Littleton home, Finch said.
Wargo worked at several jobs in recent years, including at Pepsi Co. in Ayer. McCurdy said he recently got a job as a new federal security officer at Logan Airport, but that he had not yet started that job.
Wargo's fellow firefighters were called back to the home around 2 p.m. yesterday when investigators discovered smoldering flames still inside the home's walls. Crews who were already on scene overhauling the burned-out house began tossing chairs, clothes and other burnt items out a window as they dug into walls to get at the remaining fire.
As a sign reading "Angels gather here," hung from the home's hand-painted mailbox, investigators and workers with a company on scene to board up the home went about their work.
Littleton firefighters not helping overhaul the Wargo's burned-out home yesterday gathered at the fire station where McCurdy spent most of the day speaking to reporters and giving out pictures of Wargo.
Counselors from the Regional Critical Incident Stress team were called to Littleton Friday night to help Wargo's 45 full-time and volunteer colleagues deal with the emotion of his loss, according to McCurdy, who said he called a second alarm on the fire Friday night largely so crews could begin to get counseling.
He said Wargo is the first active Littleton firefighter to die in recent memory. He said most firefighters at the scene Friday night had realized whose home they were at as they battled the blaze.
McCurdy and neighbors said the entire town was shaken by the incident. Flags in front the fire station flew at half staff yesterday and a black sheath was draped over the fire station door.
Neighbors in Wargo's peaceful lake neighborhood, filled with trees and mostly one-story homes, described Wargo as a friendly man who most did not know very well.
McCurdy said no benefits or memorials have yet been planned.
Monat, teary-eyed, said firefighters often have death in the back of their minds but that "you can't let it eat you up." He said his colleague and friend will not be forgotten.
"He's still with us," Monat said. "He's setting next to me on the truck."
Jakes pay respects to big-hearted friend
by Tom Farmer
Thursday, November 7, 2002
The laughs punctuated the tears yesterday at St. Theresa's Church in Harvard where a big-hearted Littleton firefighter who was loved for his ``quirky'' behavior was memorialized after dying in a house fire Friday.
Timothy Wargo, 42, was rescued from the living room of his Woodland Drive home by his fellow jakes Friday night but thick smoke that had filled the small dwelling proved fatal to the volunteer firefighter and EMT who had just started work as a federal screener at Logan International Airport.
The Rev. Normand R. Gaumond said Wargo, who was deeply involved in the church, was a bundle of energy known for his ``quirky'' and ``anal'' behavior.
``That's the way Tim was,'' the pastor said. ``And we loved him for it.''
Four Littleton firefighters carrying Wargo's equipment, including his No. 99 helmet and bunker gear, preceded his silver casket into the church, which overflowed with mourners.
Littleton Engine 1, covered with flowers, escorted Wargo's hearse.
The popular firefighter was someone who once ``traveled down the wrong road,'' but who reversed his course and dedicated himself to his wife, Stacey, his church, and the men and women of the Littleton Fire Department, Gaumond said.
Wargo's mother, Rita, read a short poem about her son recalling the ``bundle of joy'' his parents received 42 years ago.
``We love you, honey,'' she said.
Littleton Fire Chief Alex McCurdy said Wargo was ``serious'' when it came to working on ways to improve being a life-saver, and was overly critical of himself in that quest.
McCurdy said Wargo had a big, warm smile, which beamed even brighter on the occasions when he would fool the chief into eating his red-hot chili after promising his boss it was mild.
``I get heartburn,'' McCurdy said, confessing he fell for the gag more than a few times. ``I still have Maalox in my truck.''
Wargo was alone in the dwelling when a fire started in the kitchen near the electric stove, authorities said.
Food was being cooked at the time, but officials are also checking to make sure the stove didn't malfunction.
Investigators believe Wargo may have fallen asleep and awoke in the disorienting and deadly smoke.
No smoke detectors were found in the house, authorities said.
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