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Mobile home fire in Raynham kills woman, 83, and son

Friends recall, mourn victims

Madeline Castelluzzo, a neighbor and close friend of Dorothy Boreham, tried to put out the fire with a garden hose. Madeline Castelluzzo, a neighbor and close friend of Dorothy Boreham, tried to put out the fire with a garden hose. (George Rizer/ Globe Staff)
By Vivian Nereim
Globe Correspondent / July 7, 2009
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RAYNHAM - Every day, Dorothy Boreham walked across her yard to visit her friend Madeline Castelluzzo. In the summer, her feet wore a line in the grass. In the winter, she shoveled a path through the snow.

Yesterday the yard was covered in debris, the path obscured. An early morning fire in Boreham’s mobile home in Pine Hill Estates apparently killed Boreham and one of her sons, Neil.

Authorities have not officially identified the remains and may not do so for a week, according to the Bristol district attorney’s office. Yesterday, several neighbors and the mobile home park manager said the fire had killed Dorothy Boreham, 83, and Neil Boreham, who they said was in his early 60s.

Firefighters responded to the blaze at 2:21 a.m. It took them 40 minutes to extinguish the fire, and by the time they made it inside, they found in Dorothy Boreham’s bedroom bodies believed to be the Borehams and their dog, a papillon spaniel named Butch. All three were dead. Raynham Fire Chief James T. Januse said he believed that Neil Boreham may have been trying to wake his mother before they were trapped by the flames. Their bodies were found near a window.

Castelluzzo said that Neil Boreham, who was frail after a heart attack and a mild stroke, would have been unable to save his mother.

“He walked in slow motion,’’ said Geraldine Paling, a neighbor who played bingo with the Borehams on Thursdays.

It appears the fire was sparked by a cigarette, and authorities have identified the likely cause as “careless disposal of smoking materials,’’ according to Januse and State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan. The fire began on the home’s back porch, where neighbors said Neil Boreham was often seen smoking.

Friends gathered outside the home on Peter Street yesterday, trying to make sense of the tragedy.

They said Dorothy Boreham, who was born in Nova Scotia, was an indispensable part of their community of retirees, never one to complain and unwaveringly kind. Known to her friends as Dotty, she had lived in the mobile home park for more than 20 years, they said.

Dorothy Boreham had worked in accounting, said Castelluzzo, but since she retired, she had passed her time with bingo and cribbage.

“She was a knockout,’’ Castelluzzo said, adding that Boreham had been a beauty in her youth.

Kathy Flibotte, a neighbor who cleaned the Boreham home once a month, said Dorothy Boreham had become a mother to her. “She just made you feel good,’’ Flibotte said.

Castelluzzo said that Neil Boreham, who had lived with his mother for about two years, was a good man, but was unable to work because of his physical condition.

Born in Canada, he had recently obtained a green card, said Paling, and he was newly eligible for disability payments. “He was supposed to get his first check shortly,’’ she said.

Dorothy Boreham’s husband, Herbert Boreham, lived with her until he died about five years ago, said Castelluzo. She said Dorothy Boreham leaves two children besides Neil, Gary Boreham of Taunton and a daughter who lives in Florida, and several grandchildren.

Yesterday morning, one grandson, Dan Boreham of Canton, rode his motorcycle to the scene and paced quietly near the wreckage.

Castelluzzo had tried to put out the fire with her garden hose when she woke to the orange glow. “I was sopping wet in my jammies, barefoot,’’ she said.

Dorothy Boreham had been one of her closest friends for years. When Castelluzzo moved into the park in 2001, Dorothy Boreham brought her a housewarming gift of cinnamon pine cones.

The two women had matching papillons, and joked that their dogs, Patsy and Butch, were “girlfriend and boyfriend.’’

“He loved her,’’ said Castelluzo. “Butch loved her.’’

Castelluzzo said she had been awake since the fire. Darting around the block to comfort friends yesterday afternoon, she kept Patsy close.

Vivian Nereim can be reached at vnereim@globe.com.