By Seth Daniel
The smoke from a raging six-alarm fire on Thursday afternoon, July 21, could be seen from downtown Boston and Cambridge, but this week the charred structure at 284-286 Bunker Hill Street has been demolished – going from luxury condos with a great view to nothing in a week’s time.
Crews reported to the scene on Wednesday and began dismantling the home at 284-286 Bunker Hill St., where there were once 10 units of housing.
Around 1:45 p.m. on July 21, fire crews responded to the fire and quickly elevated the situation. Soon it hit five alarms and, not long after, it hit six alarms.
The smoke and red hot fire seemed to be concentrated on the back porch area, and though there has been no official cause, it was postulated that a gas cylinder, maybe from a BBQ grill, could have been the culprit.
The fire quickly spread to 282 Bunker Hill St. and caused severe damage to that three-unit building, though it wasn’t a total loss.
George Rotondo, a visiting nurse who was two-doors down, said his patient said she smelled smoke, and he soon agreed.
“I was two doors down at my patient’s house,” he said. “She kept saying she smelled smoke and I didn’t at the time. She said it a few more times and then I did too. I went outside and immediately realized there was a huge fire about the erupt. I got her out of the house and into safety and then I began knocking on doors and telling people to get out as quick as they could. The Fire Department was there immediately. It was so hot and the flames just kept building and building and soon we were at six alarms. It was miraculous that no one was hurt.”
Three firefighters were transferred to the hospital, but none had serious injuries.
A few hours into the fire, another fire broke out at 9 Cook St. – about 200 yards from the epicenter – and crews were dispatched there to fight that blaze. It was contained, and believed to be started by embers from the big fire. Significant damage was done there as well.
More than five hours into fighting the main fire, Boston Fire reported that flames were still rising up in a sub-basement of the home. The stubborn fire also displayed toxic smoke at one point, and evacuations were made to a large part of the surrounding area.
The fire was officially brought under control by around 7:30 p.m., but crews were on scene all night to monitor it.
The Red Cross reported that at least 15 people were displaced, and received hotel stays and comfort kits.
Boston Fire reported that there were so many Good Samaritans and helpers in Charlestown who assisted victims, firefighters and neighbors.
“Many thanks to the people of Charlestown for the overwhelming response of cold water and support,” read a Tweet from Boston Fire. “No surprise there.”