Athol, MA House Fire Kills Seven, Feb 1975


Athol, Mass. (AP) - Fourteen-year-old RAYMOND ABRAM, his hair singed and his hands and back burned, banged on a neighbor's door to report a fire at his house.
The blaze killed seven persons, including his mother and four of her children.
Irene Cameron, who was awakened by young ABRAM early yesterday, recalled:
"He had no shoes or coat on and he was crying. He said he wanted to soak his hands and wrap a towel around them."
RAYMOND'S 12-year-old brother JOHN and ROGER T. PETERSON, JR., 37, who owned the house, also escaped. Both were injured.
The dead included CHARLENE GRANEAU, 32; four of her children, DAVID GRANEAU, 6; EDWARD GRANEAU, JR., 10; STEPHEN ABRAM, 11; and JACQUELINE ABRAM, 15. All died of smoke inhalation, authorities said.
The other two victims were SUSAN PETERSON, 15, and ROBERT PETERSON, 17, children of the owner.
Police said MRS. GARNEAU had been sharing the house with PETERSON, whose wife died a year ago. She was separated from her husband and police said the ABRAMS were her children by a previous marriage.
PETERSON was in satisfactory condition with cuts and burns. JOHN was in fair condition and RAYMOND was in good condition suffering burns.
Fire Chief Armand J. Dugas, said the house near the outskirts of this western Massachusetts town was wrapped in flames when firemen arrived at 2:10 a.m. Cause of the blaze was under investigation.
Seven bodies were found on the first floor of the two-story frame house - five in the living room where there were several beds, one in a hall which had a bed and another in the dining room.
A spokesman for Massachusetts Electric Co. said service to the house had been cut off Feb. 3 because of nonpayment of bills.
Robert T. Peterson Sr., the owner's father who lives next door, said he had run an electrical cord from his house to his son's home. He said the furnace was broken and did not know if there was any heat.
ROGER PETERSON told fire officials he awoke to find the house aflame and yelled to wake the others. He said he found RAYMOND near the front door, grabbed him and went out.
PETERSON said he ran around to a front picture window, smashed it with his fist and shouted to the others to come to the window. JOHN ABRAM was the only one he could see and he lifted him out.
DONALD CAMERSON, who was coming home when he saw the fire, said: "I grabbed a rag and broke my fist through a picture window, but a ball of flame came right out in my face. There was nothing I could do."

Asbury Park Press New Jersey `1975-02-10