A Waltham Police Officer on patrol discovered a fire on the front porch of a house at 261 Derby Street in Newton, just over the city line, at about 5:30 a.m. on Sat., May 29, 2010. The officer was able to roust the sleeping residents and safely evacuate them, just seconds before propane tanks stored under the porch exploded.
The first due companies found heavy fire showing and rapid spread. A second alarm was ordered and the OIC had Ladder 3 set up in the front of the structure, and Ladder 1 set up in the rear. An interior attack was abandoned after conditions were determined to be untenable, and firefighters were regrouped outside to set up for ladder pipe and exterior hand line attack. The fire had now taken full possession of the two and a half-story, four-family structure, and had extended to a two-story garage on the B side.
Chief of Department LaCroix arrived on scene and was updated on current conditions. Several companies reported water pressure problems and LaCroix ordered a third alarm, having engine companies tap additional hydrants.
The exterior attack lasted approximately 60 minutes before companies began to reengage an interior attack at about 7a.m. As Ladder 1 entered the rear of the building, they encountered two live cats. Firefighters removed them from the structure and turned them over to Cataldo EMS personnel, who cleaned the soot from their fur and provided oxygen. The cats were scared and wet, but were happily reunited with their owners safe and sound.
The fire was declared under control about 8:30 a.m. and the exact cause is under investigation. No injuries were reported to occupants or firefighters, but a bystander, possibly a neighbor, was transported from the scene for evaluation.