Investigators search for cause of five-alarm East Boston fire that displaced 21 people

Boston fire investigators today are searching for the cause of a five-alarm fire that damaged two buildings in East Boston, displacing 21 residents.

The fire broke out around 11:30 p.m. Monday and ended up damaging 43-45 Orleans St. and an adjoining building at 263-265 Sumner St., an address only a short distance from a firehouse.

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“It’s about 60 yards from the firehouse,’’ said Boston Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald. “There was heavy fire on the third floor and through the roof. When they [firefighters] came out of the firehouse and turned right, it was right there.’’

Deputy Fire Chief Richard DiBenedetto said at the scene last night that he called for extra help because of the close proximity of the buildings in East Boston, the sub-freezing temperatures, and the heavy volume of fire.

MacDonald said 100 firefighters, including an engine crew from Chelsea, were involved in the battle. The fire was brought under control around 12:15 a.m.

Two residents were taken to Massachusetts General Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation and no firefighters were injured, MacDonald said.

Residents described how they fled the flames that suddenly enveloped their homes.

Dylan Durning, 29, and Evan Dooley, 28, evacuated their apartment at 265 Sumner when they became aware that the roof of their building was also on fire.

“Nobody was hurt. People were going around knocking on doors when we left,” Dooley said.

Erasmo Gomez, 17, said he ran out of his second-floor apartment when the fire started and alerted the nearby firehouse.

“I can’t even talk,” said Gomez, who was wrapped in a blanket at the scene. “I’m freezing, I’m scared. I’m scared to go back to my house.”

He said that when he ran to the firehouse he was also praying for his family and his puppy, who all made it out safely.

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