10 Alarm Fire Rages in Cambridge

Fire departments from more than 20 communities came to Cambridge to help fight a 10 alarm fire on Dec. 3, 2016. Photo by Lejla Brackovic/BU News Service
Written by BU News Service

A ten-alarm fire broke out on Berkshire Street in Cambridge near Kendall square after 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Fire crews are on the scene. Cambridge police are advising people to avoid the area until further notice.

The fire injured five or six people and no deaths have been reported, according to Cambridge Fire Chief Gerald Reardon. He called it “a miraculous situation.”

The fire quickly expanded to several buildings and went from nine-alarm to maximum ten-alarm. Reardon said between 50 to 60 people have been displaced by the fire, according to WBUR.

“This looks almost like a third world country after a bombing,” Reardon said at a press conference just after 8 p.m. He said that when firefighters arrived the scene “looked like something that you would see in a war zone.”

According to police, five buildings are currently burning in addition to several cars that have caught on fire. One building suffered a total collapse, and several minor collapses have been reported.

The investigation into the cause of the fire is still in the preliminary stages.

Firefighters, which have been on the scene since 2:30 p.m., expect to be on the scene until Sunday morning, according to Cambridge Fire Department Lt. Jim Drewicz.

Drewicz is part of CFD’s Rescue 1, a search team that checked every house involved to make sure no person was trapped. He said that the people in the buildings had quickly self-evacuated.

The smoke continues to cover the heavily residential area. Jannate Temsamani, 22, who lives a block away, told BU News Service that the smoke enveloped rapidly and the whole area is affected.

“Even though I can’t see the fire from my apartment, our whole building is filled with smoke,” she said.

Another resident said that she went out for a run but quickly had to return, as she could not breathe.

According to Eversource, more than 1,600 customers in Cambridge have been without electricity since 5 p.m. Residents have reported that Xfinity, which more or less has a monopoly on the internet in the area, has been down since 4 p.m.

The Cambridge Fire Department has opened a shelter for people impacted at War Memorial Recreation Center.

Cambridge Mayor Denise Simmons is asking people who want to help to make donations to the Mayor’s Fire Relief Fund at Cambridge City Hall. People can also donate to the fund online through a GoFundMe campaign.

Drewicz said that once the fire is out, firefighters will go in and rip up the damaged interiors of each affected building. He said that the firefighters are “exhausted” from the work.

According to Drewicz, the last fire in Cambridge of comparable size was about a year ago on Allston Street.

UPDATE 10 p.m.

The affected area has become a ghost town. Streets are closed up and there are fire trucks and police officers everywhere. A Cambridge police officer reported that people living in the affected area will most likely not be able to sleep at home tonight. It is still unknown when they will be able to return.

Firefighters are still engaged, trying to knock the fire out.

Shelters are set up at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School where the displaced can spend the night.

‘’I don’t have any information, the whole area is closed off. I hope that I will be able to go home tonight, but it does not look like it. I will most likely have to spend the night at my brothers,’’ Dennis Mariere, a Cambridge resident, said.

The Salvation Army of Massachusetts is collecting donations to help people affected by the fire.

This is a developing story. Updates will come as more information comes in.

Lejla Brackovic, Mariya Manzhos, Andrea Asuaje and Michael Sol Warren contributed to this report.

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