Officials: Blaze that destroyed NCAA player’s Hamilton home was a chimney fire

SAN JOSE, CA - MARCH 23: Michael Carter-Williams #1 of the Syracuse Orange goes up over Robert Thurman #34 of the California Golden Bears in the first half during the third round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at HP Pavilion on March 23, 2013 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Carter-Williams soared toward the hoop, not knowing that his house was burning down.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The chimney was the origin of the blaze that burned down an NCAA basketball player’s house in Hamilton while he was playing in the March Madness tournament, the state fire marshal’s office said.

The fire broke out in the two-story Colonial-style home of Michael Carter-Williams shortly after 10 p.m. Saturday, roughly a half-hour after Carter-Williams’s team, Syracuse University, took the floor against California in San Jose, Calif.

The 6-foot-6-inch hoop star’s stepbrothers, stepfather, and two of his friends were watching him play when the fire started. They and the family’s dog made it out quickly, Jennifer Carter, Carter -Williams’s aunt, told the Globe Sunday.

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In a joint statement, State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan and Hamilton Fire Chief Philip W. Stevens Jr. said the cause of the fire on Cutler Road was “a chimney fire.”

Carter-Williams noticed that his mother, who knew that the house was burning down, was crying in the stands as his team battled for a spot in the Sweet 16. But she waved him off when he asked why she was upset, not wanting to distract him. Syracuse won, 66-60.

The fire was investigated by the Hamilton fire and police departments and by State Police assigned to the fire marshal’s office.