Several residents of 23 Lithgow St. in Codman Square were spared being trapped by a three-alarm fire that raged through their three-decker on a hot Friday afternoon, July 15.
There were no injuries to civilians, but one firefighter was transported with some injuries.
Plumes of smoke that could be seen from over one mile away rose from the back porch of the home just about 3:30 p.m. on Friday just as the temperatures hit about 87 degrees. As the fire quickly spread, several Good Samaritans, including Vivian Fernandez, immediately rushed to the homes to try to get people out – many of whom were home at the time.
“The building was fully engulfed, and we ran down here, and people were already trying to get other people out,” she said. “I went over to 19 Lithgow because I saw the fire from 23 (Lithgow) was going to jump. We went over and all the doors were locked so we just started ringing all the bells. We were just screaming, ‘Fire, fire, you gotta’ get out.’”
She said during the commotion, they noticed an elderly woman on the second-floor porch of 23 Lithgow who was unaware of the massive fire one-story above her.
“The lady on the second floor, who I’d say was in her mid-70s was standing on the second-floor porch not knowing that the third floor was on fire,” said Fernandez. “We didn’t know if she spoke English, but we just yelled up there, ‘Fire, fire, come out now!’ I saw her then come out with a young lady with a prosthetic leg and they both lived there.”
Several Boston Fire engine companies set to work fighting the large flames on the back porch – a porch that later collapsed. The fire did spread to 19 Lithgow as well, and firefighters concentrated efforts there.
The fire hit three alarms, thus summoning new Commissioner Paul Burke to the scene. Burke and other command staff had just been sworn in at Florian Hall in Neponset and rushed to the scene from there. In about one hour or less, despite the heat and exhaustion for the crews, the fire was brought under control due to an aggressive attack by the jakes at the scene. There were no injuries, but 17 residents were displaced from both homes.
“It all happened so fast,” said Fernandez, one of several on the street who jumped to action upon seeing smoke. “We tried to help get everybody out. They obviously didn’t have time to get anything. It was awesome they all got out and pets got out too.”
The fire remains under investigation by the Boston Fire Department Fire Investigation Unit.