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Overloaded extension cords, debris caused fatal Manchester fire

MANCHESTER — Overheated extension cords that ignited papers and other clutter that filled a West Side home is responsible for the fire that killed a 72-year-old woman Tuesday night, fire officials said.

The fire started in a second-floor room at 83 Bowman St. where Sarah Storer Robinson worked on her computer and an area she used as a lounge area in the house that otherwise was so cluttered she relied on a narrow series of warren-like paths to get around.

"There were multiple extension cords grouped together, which caused an overheating situation," Manchester Fire Chief James Burkush said Wednesday.

"There were all kinds of papers and combustibles around the extension cords which contributed to a very rapid development of fire," Burkush added.

Robinson apparently became disoriented by the smoke and tried to escape. Instead of going downstairs, she was found lying on the floor in a cluttered second-floor bedroom covered with fallen debris and clutter. An autopsy determined cause of death to be smoke inhalation, Burkush said.

Lack of working smoke detectors also contributed to the fire getting a head start. A neighbor reported the fire. Fire was blowing out second-story windows by the time firefighters arrived about 5 p.m. Tuesday.

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