Crews battle three-alarm fire at Worcester apartment building

One firefighter was treated at a hospital and a dog rescued from a multi-family building that went up in flames shortly after 4 a.m. Friday.

The fire at 74 West St., which houses several apartments and is next to a small retail strip that includes a pizza shop, saw firefighters battled frigid temperatures, frozen hydrants and what one fire official called a “worst-case scenario” of a fire that started in the basement apartment of a triple-decker.

“The first arriving companies arrived to a basement fire, and that basement fire quickly spread into the pipe chase right up into the attic,” Worcester fire Chief Michael Lavoie said.

3-Alarm Fire Destroys Building, Displaces Families In Worcester

The three-alarm blaze, whose cause remains under investigation, saw one firefighter sent to UMass Medical Center, where he was later released, after he apparently slipped and fell on the ice. No other injuries were reported and all residents were said to have escaped the building unharmed. There was, however, one surprising find: a pit bull found on the third floor by firefighters about four-and-a-half hours after the fire started. Worcester Magazine captured the dog on Facebook Live (above) being carried to safety.

Lavoie said fire crews dealt with some cold conditions while trying to fight the fire. He said crews had to deal with three frozen fire hydrants, but crews were soon able to get plenty of water.

“No one had reported a dog missing,” Deputy Chief John Sullivan said. “We were doing overhaul in the building, and found this dog, and he was OK. Frankly, it was unbelievable.”

The dog, which appeared to have suffered some burns on his back, was on the upper floor, which Sullivan said is where the bulk of the flames were concentrated.

Shortly before 5 a.m., firefighters responded to a fire inside an apartment building at 74 West Street in Worcester. More than three hours after the initial report, Worcester fire crews continued to battle fire hotspots within the three-story building.

15 West Street residents displaced in Worcester fire

“He’s more like a cat, because he’s got some extra lives, that one,” Sullivan said.

‘We lost everything’: 15 displaced after fire rips through Worcester apartment building

The dog appeared “more than happy to see everybody,” he said, adding, “He was pretty scared. He was not aggressive in any way toward us. He was happy to be coming out of that building I’ll tell you that.”

With flames shooting from the attic and 3 frozen fire hydrants, Worcester blaze ‘quickly got out of hand,’ fire chief says

“It gives you a good feeling,” Sullivan continued. “You can away from it and go, ‘At least we didn’t go up there and recover a dead animal or whatever.’”

The fire does not appear suspicious in origin at this time, according to Sullivan.

“We woke up to the fire alarm, when we went outside there were other tenants standing out there saying there was smoke coming from the ground,” said second-floor resident, Lorion Ocean.

Firefighters were delayed in attacking the blaze when they encountered at least two frozen fire hydrants, the deputy chief said. While water supply and pressure were not an issue, the frozen hydrants forced crews to attach lines to the next hydrant.

“We have provided them with housing on campus, as well as provided them with toiletries, basic essentials and so on,” said Amy Dean of Becker College.

“You hook up to the hydrant, expecting water’s going to come out of it,” Sullivan said. “You turn it on and no water comes out. You’ve now got to disconnect and hump that line to the next hydrant, which could 200, 300, 400 feet down the road. That’s just more time, and the fire’s spreading further … It certainly had an impact on our ability to get a quick, initial knockdown.”

Frigid weather is always a problem when battling a fire, Sullivan observed.

The fire, at 76 West St., was reported around 4:30 a.m. No one was hurt, Fire Chief Michael Lavoie said. The building is in a dense neighborhood off Highland Street, next to Ernie’s Pizza. No other buildings were damaged in the blaze.

“Anytime we have a fire in this sub-zero weather,” he said, “the hydrants are always an issue, and that puts us behind the 8-ball fairly quickly … The worst-case scenario for us at a fire is when it starts in the basement of a multi-family, because it’s got nowhere to go but up. It just has a lot more fuel. Heat rises and it’s going up.

“Becker is so proud to have partnered with organizations like the American Red Cross and the first responders,” said Amy Dean, the school’s vice president of communications. “We’re very proud to support our extended family.”

“Our worst case scenario is a fire that starts anywhere near the bottom of a building. It quickly spreads up the walls, into the attic area, into the third floor, involving all floors. It’s very manpower intensive.”

Though the blaze started small in the basement, it breached the wall and shot ip to the attic, Lavoie said, adding that the design of the building made the fire difficult to fight. The fire rose to three alarms. 

Adding to the challenge, Sullivan said, is when a fire start so early, such as this one. People are most likely asleep and could be delayed in noticing alarms and recognizing there is a fire.”

Firefighters battled a difficult blaze at a Worcester apartment building on Friday morning, as frigid temperatures led to three frozen fire hydrants while flames shot out from the attic.

Sullivan did not have an estimated total cost of the damage, but said the building appeared to be a “total loss.”

Children carefully navigated the icy sidewalks, walking by the fire to head toward the Elm Park Elementary School, which is down the street.

According to city records, the property is assessed at $620,400. It was sold in 2016 for $1.3 million.

Fire crews from Auburn and Holden responded and provided station coverage in Worcester when the blaze reached a third alarm. According to Sullivan, eight engines, five ladder trucks, a rescue unit and several fire chiefs responded to the fire.

WORCESTER, MA – Crews remained at the scene of a three-alarm fire at a Worcester apartment building after noon on Friday. The fire broke out after 4 a.m. at 74 West St.

Flames spread through the building from the basement, reaching the attic, according to WCVB. No injuries were reported, but 15 people were displaced by the fire. A dog was also rescued from the fire.

Officials told reporters the fire was difficult to fight because three hydrants froze over.

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Posted in Worcester