Town Officials Report on Beacon Street Fire
Fire Chief Paul Ford, Police Chief Daniel O'Leary and members of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) reported to the Board following their efforts at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day fire on Beacon Street.
About 60 Beacon Street residents were forced out of their homes because of a fire which blazed through an apartment building at 1471 Beacon Street on Monday morning.
Fire Chief Paul Ford explained that there is no suspicious cause of the fire, although the exact cause has not yet been determined. He said they have ruled out a dryer as the cause of the fire, and believe it began in an electrical closet.
The fire climbed to the fourth floor, where much of the roof of the building was opened up to let fire escape, rather than "mushrooming" along the top of the building.
"We have a phrase: 'Any fire going out of the building is good fire,'" Ford explained.
The neighboring buildings were evacuated, and the walls of 1469 Beacon Street were damaged while firefighters checked inside for the spread of fire. Power was restored to 1469 Beacon late Monday night.
Ford reported that there were a few injuries in the incident, all of which are considered minor: One resident, two Brookline and two Boston firefighters.
Selectman Dick Benka asked whether the building was up to fire codes, and whether a more modern system could have prevented some damage. Ford also explained that, because of the building's age, its fire systems were to code for the time it was built--which is all that was required for it. If the apartment building is rebuilt, it will have to conform to modern fire codes.
Neighboring buildings, including 1443 and 1459 Beacon Street opened their doors to their displaced neighbors. The American Red Cross and Salvation Army were on the scene quickly. Sgt. Mike Raskin, who helped with relief efforts, also had accounts of a passing Stop and Shop manager getting to work and organizing a delivery of food, and of a resident of 1443 Beacon Street who purchased 50 sandwiches from Bruegger's Bagels for his neighbors.
Raskin also noted that residents were being allowed into the buildings, with the landlord's crews, but that for some residents, not many of their possessions were salvageable.
Public Health Director Dr. Alan Balsam added that those displaced by the fire can contact the Public Health Department with requests at (617) 730-2300.
Firefighters from neighboring communities responded to the scene, "without hesitation," Ford noted. Communities such as Newton, Somerville, Cambridge, Boston, Dedham and Watertown were on the scene as the fire escalated to a four-alarm blaze.
Ford also noted that the cooperation between Brookline firefighters and those from neighboring communities is a perfect example of a mutual aid pact, much like the pact the Selectmen signed at last week's meeting.
He also commented that, before he had even returned home, he had received e-mails expressing thanks for the service of Brookline's firefighters.
"We are incredibly grateful, more than words can express." Said Selectman Jesse Mermell, "We know you’re out there doing it every day, but this really puts it on display."
Selectman Nancy Daly also asked that Ford convey the Board's thanks to the firefighters who worked at Monday's scene.
Congratulations came from Selectman Ken Goldstein to Chief Ford, who noted, "this was the first time town has seen you at a major scene like this... Some credit should go to you on this as well."