Four-alarm fire in Jamaica Plain two-family may have been ignited on outdoor porch

A four-alarm fire that swept quickly through a Jamaica Plain two-family home this afternoon may have been ignited by a cigarette burning a couch on the porch, a fire official said.

Most residents of the three-story house at 306 South St.were not home, and the few who were escaped uninjured, said Deputy Fire Chief Joseph “Jay’’ Fleming.

Two firefighters were taken to hospitals with “strains and sprains” that did not seem to be serious, Fleming said.

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“It doesn’t happen that often, but when you have an upholstered couch on the front porch, you might as well have a can of gasoline on the front porch,” Fleming said.

The fire did not extend to nearby houses, but did damage six parked cars — one in the driveway and five on the street.

Fleming estimated the damage at about $350,000.

Patricia Adams said she moved into the mint-green house 50 years ago when she was 7.

When her parents died they left the house to her and her six siblings, and a few years ago, she bought her siblings’ share with the help of her son, who lives in Dedham.

She lived on the second and third floors with three others and slept in what had been her parents’ bedroom. She rented the first floor to two tenants who had a pair of cats, she said.

The tenants were home when the fire began, she said, but they escaped. One of the cats survived, she said, but firefighters found the body of the other inside.

This afternoon, she stood in front of the house as firefighters checked the charred facade and water dripped from floor to floor. She later went inside to salvage some sentimental items — her father’s military medals and her grandchildren’s blue and pink baby socks.

“My grandkids’ socks,” she said. “I don’t have their pictures, but I got these.”