More than 30 people were left without a home Wednesday after a six-alarm fire tore through three triple-decker apartment buildings in Dorchester, fire officials said.
Nine apartments on Fox and Juliette streets sustained $1.2 million in damage in the blaze that struck around 6:35 p.m., said Steve MacDonald, a spokesman for the Boston Fire Department. No residents were injured and one firefighter was treated and taken to Boston Medical Center for a shoulder injury, he said.
MacDonald referred to the fire as a “perfect storm” because of the close vicinity of the triple-deckers. The blaze was in the rear of the buildings on Fox Street and traveled up the side of a building on Juliette, he said.
“It was like a firestorm where the fire just swirled around in this very tight, confined space,” said MacDonald.
The cause of the smoky fire and the building it started in were unknown on Wednesday night, MacDonald said.
Numerous fire hoses criss-crossed one another in the street as residents displaced from 10 Fox St., 12 Fox St., and 8 Juliette St., as well as crowds of locals, watched some of the 150 firefighters search through the charred buildings.
A lone cat was pulled from one of the triple-deckers and treated for smoke inhalation, an EMS official said.
Maria Roblova sat on a Fox Street porch bundled in a blanket and a black jacket with a look of distress as she watched firefighters going through her destroyed home.
She told how she awoke from her nap and saw fire roaring on the back porch. She hollered to a guest in the house, who then raced to the bathroom to get water to put out the fire.
“We threw water on it, but it wouldn’t go out,” said the guest Vanessa Morana, 21, who was in the second-floor apartment with Roblova. “Once we realized we couldn’t put it out, we ran out of the building.”
Jose Melendez, who also lives on Fox Street, said he was pulling into his driveway when he saw smoke coming from behind a neighbor’s house and heard a woman screaming “Help” in Cape Verdean Creole.
He raced to the house at 12 Fox St. and saw Morano with four young children. He quickly called 911. At the same time, other neighbors were frantically ringing doorbells and banging on doors, trying to get others out.
“This is a tight neighborhood,” he said. “We all take care of each other.”
Vernon Chan, 23, and Chris Dorscher, 24, were cooking in their third-floor apartment at 10 Fox St. when the blaze erupted.
Dorscher originally assumed someone in the building had burned some food, but when he checked his porch he was met by heavy black smoke.
“I looked up and there was fire everywhere,” he said.
“It escalated quickly,” said Chan. “We grabbed whatever we could.”
The heavy fire was extinguished within a half an hour, MacDonald said. “The idea is to get the manpower here. This is the second multiple [alarm fire] of the day.”
The Red Cross and the mayor’s office helped provide temporary shelter Wednesday for the residents forced out of their homes.
Earlier Wednesday morning, a four-alarm fire ripped through a storefront property on 124-130 Harvard St. in Dorchester. No one was injured in that blaze and it was put out within 15 minutes, but caused about $500,000 in damage, MacDonald said.