A fast-moving fire tore through a three-decker house at 49 Mather St. on Saturday night, displacing 14 people and injuring four, including two Boston firefighters who were part of a daring ladder rescue operation. The three-alarm fire broke out hours after a blizzard ended, but fire crews were able to respond in time to rescue all occupants, including one man who was plucked from a third floor perch as flames approached him.
Firefighter Steve MacDonald, a spokesman for the department, says one of the injured residents suffered burns, while a second suffered from smoke inhalation. One firefighter suffered facial burns and the other a groin injury— both were treated and released from the hospital that night.
Damage was estimated at $400,000. The cause remains under investigation, but on Tuesday the city of Boston issued a violation to the property owner — Jian Zhou of Lexington— and ordered her to make immediate repairs or raze the building, which has been deemed unsafe after the fire.
City officials said this week that an initial inspection did not uncover any evidence that the house was being used illegally. Lisa Timberlake, a spokesperson for the city’s Inspectional Services Department, said that the agency would await a final report from the fire department about the incident.
Neighbors, who were among the first to respond to cries for help, took in many of the residents displaced from the house. Among the disdplaced were young immigrant students who were attending colleges in the Boston area, according to one of the neighbors, Jenny Moye. She and her husband Adam Gibbons sheltered five of the residents until Red Cross and other resources became available.
Moye, Gibbons and others have also arranged for a fire fund to assist those displaced. Dorchester House has agreed to be the fiscal agent for the fund. Checks can be made payable to Dorchester House Multi Service Center, c/o Jenny Moye and Adam Gibbons, 43 Mather Street, Dorchester MA 02124. Write “49 Mather fire victims” in the memo line.
“It was heart wrenching to be with these young men -- some crying, some with faces covered in soot, some coughing, some asking to call their mother,” Moye explained in an e-mail. “None of them have family here so we need to stand in for their family.”