A four-alarm fire on Colonial Avenue left 18 people without a home Monday morning when the three-story apartment building went up in flames. There were tears and missing pets on the sidewalk as residents stood, wrapped in blankets, watching firefighters scale the building from all sides to stomp out the remains of a fire that took their possessions but, thankfully, said resident Julie Stewart, no lives.
Boston Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald said although no serious injuries were sustained in the fire, there were some "anxious moments" early on when a firefighter was trapped in the basement. He got out safely after a mayday call and was sent to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.
The cause of the fire is still being investigated, but resident Dianna Miles speculated that it was a problematic broiler in the basement. She received a call while at work and said by the time she got to her home smoke and flames were raging through the building.
The Red Cross and representatives from the Mayor's office were on scene to assist displaced residents, offering blankets, clothing, food, shoes, and transportation to shelter.
"My main concern right now is that these people have a decent place to stay the night," said City Councillor Charles Yancey, who came out to offer support to the victims.
MacDonald said the fire department received the call at 10:06 a.m., when 90 firefighters were dispatched to the scene. Flames engulfed the six-family apartment house as a result of its balloon construction, a framing method commonly used up until the 1950s which lacks fire stops in the walls. "The fire gets in the walls and travels quickly right up the walls and out the roof," MacDonald said.
Building owner Michael Stella was telling residents not to expect to get back into the building for at least another day. His immediate plan was to "make sure everyone is safe and as secure as they can be right now."