HANSON — A mother of three lost her life in a house fire Monday night May 4.
Margaret O’Toole-Driscoll, 58, known as Peggy, perished along with the family’s dog in the fatal blaze. The home located at the end of a cal-du-sac is part of a small neighborhood off West Washington Street.
Two of her three children are currently students at Whitman-Hanson Regional High School confirmed in a press release by Superintendent Jeff Szymaniak. Driscoll was employed as an instructional support aide for East Bridgewater schools, according to media reports.
The family has resided in the neighborhood for approximately 20 years, according to neighbors.
In a press release through Plymouth County District Attorney’s Timothy J. Cruz’s office, who confirmed the name of the victim, also said the cause of the fire was under investigation by the State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey.
Hanson Fire Chief Jerome Thompson released a written statement early on Tuesday morning and later confirmed by phone that the fire at 165 Pennsylvania Ave. had been fatal.
Thompson called the conditions untenable as heavy fire and heat caused deteriorating circumstances for the four initial firefighters who responded to the call.
He commended the efforts of the firefighters who performed a secondary search of the home along with continued fire suppression before locating Driscoll.
The flames took nearly an hour to get under control.
There were three other occupants living in the single family, cape-style log cabin home at the time of the fire and they were able to safely escape, according to the press release through the D.A’s Office.
Neighbor Alyssa Aghajanian and her family, who live with her parents, share a side yard with trees separating their home from the Driscoll’s. They could see the flames through the trees, she said
Aghajanian, 29, who babysat for many of the families on the street, was consoled by her young daughter and family as she became tearful and saddened talking about times she recalled as a youngster braiding her hair with Peggy. She estimated they have known the family at least 20 years.
They originally heard noise coming from the yard that sounded of people yelling, but they soon realized the home was engulfed.
“We had the window open … we went to look, and saw the fire from the front window,” said Aghajanian.
She said they were screaming “bloody murder, ‘Is everyone out of the house?’” from their front porch.
They had later learned that wasn’t the case.
All three of the Driscoll children were W-H students with two of them current students, according to Szymaniak, who released information on counseling services during the pandemic.
“Counseling services will be made available to all students by email or using Google voice/text,” he stated. “To schedule an appointment to speak with a counselor, please call one of the phone numbers listed on the district’s website: https://www.whrsd.org/central_administration/district_departments/student_services.
“While we are not currently able to be in school, we will all be there to support the family with whatever they need and encourage other members of the school community to do so as well,” said Szymaniak.
Thompson commended the efforts of the firefighters although the outcome was not a positive one.
He said their thoughts were with the family and that losing a member of the small, Hanson community affects everyone.
Firefighters immediately conducted a primary search on arrival at the scene. After nearly an hour and the bulk of the fire being brought under control, firefighters were able to re-enter the building to complete a secondary search, which is when they discovered the deceased victim.
A neighbor had given the family refuge at the scene and they were there early Tuesday morning, according to Aghajanian.
The family is being assisted currently by the Red Cross, said Thompson. The home is uninhabitable due to the extensive damage. The fire is not considered suspicious and the cause is still undetermined as late Tuesday, said Thompson.
Hanson was assisted at the scene by Hanson police, Hanson water department, and the towns of Whitman, Pembroke, Halifax, and the Whitman CERT team.
Hanover fire also covered the Hanson headquarters.