PHOTO BY SCOTT EISEN
A firefighter works to extinguish a 4-alarm fire with multiple houses involved along Taft Street in Revere early Tuesday morning.
By THOR JOURGENSEN
A four-alarm fire early Tuesday morning on Taft Street destroyed two homes, leaving 18 residents homeless but none injured, according to fire officials.
Revere Fire Chief Christopher Bright said crews faced immediate difficulty finding a water source to fight the fire and stretched hoses to Broadway and other streets to hook up to hydrants.
Bright said one firefighter, whom he did not immediately identify, was taken to an area hospital with non life-threatening injuries. A statement released late Tuesday morning by Mayor Brian Arrigo’s office stated the Cambridge firefighter was injured by a collapsed gutter.
“There were no injuries to civilians as far as I know,” Bright said.
Arrigo’s statement urged displaced Taft Street residents affected by Tuesday’s hot weather to stop by First Congregational Church, 230 Beach St., where air conditioned seating is available. The statement said relief agencies, including the American Red Cross, planned to set up on Taft Street at First Congregational to assist residents.
“Residents in need of relief services are urged to visit the church,” stated Arrigo.
Bright said an initial investigation indicated the fire started in the rear of 45 Taft and spread next door to 41 Taft. He said both buildings are uninhabitable with 12 adults and six children left homeless. The fire damaged the exteriors of five homes adjacent to the two houses, including 845 Revere Beach Parkway.
The blaze turned Taft, a residential street paralleling the Parkway, with homes and neatly-kept lawns, into a disaster scene with fire trucks lining the street and neighbors and fire victims clustered on the sidewalks and on front porches.
Ronald Cubias, one of four residents living in 45 Taft’s second-floor apartment, awoke to noise and ran downstairs when he saw fire. Cubias, who speaks only Spanish, described through neighbor Ruth Ramos how he helped ensure four adults and five children living in 45 Taft’s first-floor apartment get out of the building.
He said he ran next door to 41 Taft St. and banged on the front door to alert residents. A woman who answered directed him to the home’s second floor where Cubias said he helped a 10-year-old boy out of a room filling with smoke.
“I was nervous. The fire was really bad,” Cubias said.
Kristen D’Amico lives next to 41 Taft and said the building’s smoke alarms woke her up. She grabbed her children, ages 2 and 4, and fled to the street.
Parkway resident Ivan Carcamo also fled his home after “a big explosion” woke him and he saw the Taft Street homes behind his house on fire. Bright and Revere Deputy Fire Chief Paul Cheever credited fire crews with keeping the fire from destroying neighboring properties. Twelve engine companies and six ladders, including Chelsea, Everett, Malden and Massachusetts Port Authority crews, fought the fire or provided support for Revere firefighters.
“They did a tremendous job,” Bright said.
The Tuesday morning disaster brought back memories of the July 28, 2014 tornado that damaged Taft Street and Parkway homes for residents like Ramos. She said 45 Taft’s first-floor residents plan to stay temporarily with relatives.
“The second-floor residents don’t have anything,” she said.