Blaze Sends Boston College Students into Night

Sept. 19, 2008
The fire may have been started by a grill.


Hundreds of Brookline residents, including many Boston College students, were forced from their homes overnight when a fire broke out at apartments near the university's Chestnut Hill campus.

Fire investigators say an unattended grill on the roof of the complex may have been the cause of the blaze.


Fire officials said about 200 people were evacuated after the blaze erupted about 4 a.m. at brownstone apartments at 11 Strathmore Road near Beacon Street, Cleveland Circle and the Green Line MBTA stop.

"I was asleep and I heard fire, from across the street someone yelled, 'Fire,' and I woke up, I looked outside the window. There was fire, kind of red ... so I woke up my roommate," one resident said.

"I was already up and I all I heard was this great big 'Whoosh,' and the whole building was engulfed," resident Phillip Davidson said. He rushed to get his son and wife out of the building.

"We were walking out we heard the alarms going off and the ambulances were backing down the street telling everybody to get out," Sandra Davidson said.

Many residents went to an emergency shelter at Brookline's senior center. Most were allowed to return to their units by about 6:30 a.m., but at least 50 may need temporary housing.

The brick row houses are all connected. Firefighters and residents ran door-to-door urging people to get out.

"I got woken up by someone saying, 'Get out of the building, get out of the building,' and we just booked it down the stairs," a student resident said.

"We believe it started on the roof. That's where the main body of fire was when we pulled up, was on the roof area. And there was extensive damage to the tar and gravel roof," Brookline Fire Chief Peter Skerry said.

No injuries were immediately reported. College students living off campus, young professionals and some families occupy the units.

"It was actual fire dripping from the skylight," resident Nate Miller said, describing the flames shooting out above his head as he rushed to get out.

It took about 30 minutes to knock down the blaze but firewalls helped prevent the fire from spreading. About 25 residents of the building where the fire began will not be able to return to their units any time soon, but some felt they were just lucky to be alive.

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