Boston Firefighters Battle Elements

While high winds were freezing brains and chilling bones across the region yesterday, they also inadvertently sparked a four-alarm Dorchester blaze that left five people homeless and injured three firefighters, officials said.

A heat gun used to thaw frozen pipes accidentally started the fire, which broke out shortly after 10:30 a.m. in a second-floor bathroom at 2 Woodworth St. in Dorchester's Port Norfolk section, said Steve MacDonald, a Boston Fire Department spokesman.

"I saw smoke coming from the building, and then all of a sudden, I saw flames in the window," said Donald Polito, who lives next door to the 2 1/2-story, wood-frame house.

Another neighbor, who declined to give her name, said she saw a man carrying a "bundle of kittens" from the second floor just before three "blow-ups" of thick white smoke erupted from the building.

When firefighters hosed down the house, "tree limbs started flying off because of the water pressure, but thank God no one was seriously hurt," said another neighbor, Carol Junkins.

Nearly 100 firefighters spent about three hours battling blustering winds to bring the blaze under control, MacDonald said. Three firefighters were treated at the scene - one for burns and the others for cuts, he added.

Also yesterday, a Quincy firefighter was taken to the hospital after he slipped on some ice at a three-alarm fire at 87 Faxon Road, said Fire Capt. Steven Baylis.

The temperature yesterday reached a high of 13 degrees, according to the National Weather Service in Taunton. And the rest of the week isn't expected to get much warmer.

Today is expected to be mostly cloudy, with a high near 22 and wind-chill temps plunging to between zero and 10 below. Tomorrow will bring a slight chance of snow showers, with a high near 23. Friday's high is expected to reach 29. Things will warm up over the weekend, with a high near 45 Saturday and a positively springlike 52 Sunday, with a chance of showers both days.

Republished with permission of The Boston Herald.