Explosion, fire at Sandwich home remain under investigation

Paul Babin

A Chaucer Road resident remains hospitalized after an explosion and fire early Thanksgiving morning destroyed his house.

Joseph Kuzava, 50, suffered second-degree burns to his face and torso. He is being treated at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and was listed in fair condition as of Monday morning.

Kuzava’s mother, Charlotte Kuzava, owns the house.

Charlotte Kuzava said her son’s condition has improved since he was brought to the hospital last Thursday. She said he has been taken off the respirator.

“He’s doing fine. He will be home in a day or two. He has second degree burns in a lot of places but he’s making progress.” she said.

Joseph’s sister Cathy said he did not sustain any injuries to his lungs.

 “They don’t suspect that his lungs or anything were affected. It wasn’t like he was laying [on the ground] while the house was on fire and he was breathing smoke.”

Sandwich fire Capt. Timothy McMahon said the explosion was reported at approximately 4 a.m. Thursday morning.

Kuzava was alone in the house when the explosion occurred. He ran out of the house and banged on his neighbor’s door for help.

Cathy Kuzava said he probably broke through his first floor window to escape the fire.

“I just thank God he’s such a big strong guy because it looks like he had to break out through a window. He probably threw his left arm up over his face and broke out. That’s the way it looks.”

McMahon said it took firefighters roughly an hour to douse the flames.

Sandwich firefighters received aid from the Cotuit, Mashpee, Massachusetts Military Reservation, Centerville/Osterville, and Bourne fire departments.

“We had a routine call just prior to this call so we were shorthanded going out the door,” McMahon said.

Officials from the state fire marshal’s office and Sandwich fire Capt. Robert Black are investigating the cause of the fire.

McMahon said an improperly installed water heater could have been responsible.

Charlotte Kuzava said a Sears subcontractor installed the water heater.

Joseph Kuzava has been feuding with neighbors for 10 years for operating illegal businesses out of the house including an appliance repair business and a tree cutting business.

The town filed a cease and desist order in 1999 and neighbors drafted a petition against him in 2001.

Fire Prevention Officer J.J. Burke ordered Kuzava to remove a large woodpile in front of the house that was deemed a public safety hazard.

Burke made regular checks to Kuzava’s property to make sure the pile did not return.

Assistant Building Inspector Pete Sherwin was preparing to levy a $300 fine for Kuzava’s zoning infractions but said he would delay issuing it because of the fire.

A neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous, said she has made calls to the town about the illegal businesses and the woodpile.

She said the town has not done enough to address the problem.

“I’m not encouraged by [the town’s efforts] at all. It’s been going on for 10 years and slapping a fine on him is not going to do anything,” she said.

The building inspector’s office immediately condemned the property after the fire.

Sandwich Broadsider