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Lawyer, 68, dies after fire at Winthrop home

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A 68-year-old lawyer died Saturday after being pulled from the second floor of his beachfront home in Winthrop, marking the third fire fatality in a span of 24 hours, officials said.

“It has been a very sad 24 hours for fire deaths,” said Jennifer Mieth, spokeswoman for the state Department of Fire Services.


In the latest casualty, a motorist driving home from his job at the Winthrop Yacht Club spotted smoke coming from the second floor of 162 Winthrop Shore Drive and knocked on the door at about 1:37 a.m., said Winthrop Fire Chief Paul Flanagan. The motorist also called 911, he said.

The victim was Charles Balliro, who was pulled from the home and pronounced dead at Massachusetts General Hospital, the fire chief said.

Balliro’s son, who was asleep on the first floor, answered the door when the motorist knocked, but heavy fire prevented him from reaching his father on the second floor, Flanagan said.

Investigators believe the blaze started accidentally, but haven’t pinpointed the cause, Flanagan said. The fire was contained to the second floor and caused about $75,000 in damage, he said.

There were no working smoke alarms in the residence, Flanagan said.


“Fire deaths are up dramatically,” he said. “It speaks volumes to the value of home smoke alarms.”

He said Winthrop firefighters recently completed installing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in 120 homes as part of a campaign by the American Red Cross to reduce fire fatalities.

The Winthrop death followed fires in Bourne and Watertown that killed a woman and firefighter, respectively. So far this year, fires have killed 23 civilians and one firefighter, Mieth said.

Watertown Firefighter Joseph Toscano, 54, died Friday after he suffered a medical emergency while battling a two-alarm fire at 29 Merrifield Ave. His body is expected to be escorted later Saturday to Randolph, where Toscano lived with his wife, Maureen, and their five children.

In Bourne, a woman died Friday afternoon after a two-alarm fire erupted in a home on Alona Avenue, officials said. The cause of blaze is under investigation and authorities haven’t released the name of the victim.

Olivia Arnold can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @olivia_arnold12Laura Crimaldi can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.

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