The Morning After: Deputy Chief Thomas Cahill survey's the damage. As many as 15 building were effected, as were many cars.

Credit: Meredith Nierman | WGBH News

Massive Cambridge Fire 'Like A War Zone' Under Investigation

December 3, 2016

Firefighters from 17 communities Saturday battled a massive fire in East Cambridge on Berkshire Street between Kendall and Inman Squares.

No one died. 2 policemen and a firefighter were briefly hospitalized, as were 3 or so residents.

Nearly a dozen buildings were destroyed or damaged. 50 to 60 residents were displaced, An emergency center was established at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.

According to the Cambridge Fire Department, the fire was reported around 3 pm.

Two explosions were reported before flames flared into view,

Cambridge Fire Chief Gerald Reardon compared the scene to a "war zone".

Reardon declined to discuss the reported explosions and said the fire would be under investigation.

An eyewitness said the fire erupted in a three-story wooden house undergoing renovation.

By the time firefighters arrived a ball of fire was roaring, licking its way across the street.

It quickly spread to neighboring structures.

Porches on the old-fashioned, 3-decker-wooden houses were often the first to alight, some crashing to the street.

Several cars were destroyed.

The wind-whipped blaze was sufficiently intense to jump the street.  

Flames and columns of smoke were visible from vantage points in and around Greater Boston.

The fire was eventually classified a 10-alarm blaze.

Fires of this magnitude are rare. Media throughout New England headlined coverage, as did many in New York City. Even Reuters, the international news agency, carried reports.

Firefighters encircled the blaze in the densely-settled neighborhood in an effort to attack it from as many angles as possible. 

Firehoses snaked through car-clogged streets as firefighters established operational bases from which to proceed.

Choking clouds of thick-black smoke enveloped the neighborhood as winds carried debris through the air. 

Efforts to extinguish the conflagration were still ongoing at 8 pm, but by then the worst was over.

An hour earlier it looked as if the fire might finally have been under control, but it flared again.

Red Cross emergency and comfort units were dispatched to the scene.

 


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