Seven People Homeless After Massachusetts House Blaze

Feb. 27, 2004
Seven people are homeless after a fire ravaged an "architecturally significant" home. Fire Capt. Chip Ryan said it was a "heavy fire."

Seven people are homeless after a fire ravaged an "architecturally significant" home on Bartlett Avenue Monday night.

It was the second blaze to destroy a home on the street in four years.

Arlington firefighters were called to the two-family home at 75 Bartlett Ave. at around 10:30 p.m. With flames shooting from the roof, Arlington struck a second alarm and apparatus from Belmont, Lexington and Medford responded. Somerville also sent an engine and tower to the scene a short time later and the Metro Fire air supply unit responded to fill the firefighters' air tanks.

Fire Capt. Chip Ryan said it was a "heavy fire." After realizing the tenants were safe and the blaze had extended beyond the firefighters' capability to fight it from inside the home, fire officials pulled firefighters from the building. The fire burned through the roof and firefighters extinguished it from outside.

"It was a difficult fire to fight because it got into the roof rafters," said Ryan. "If it had just been a room fire or a couple of rooms and not the interior voids in the house, it could have been put out (from inside)."

Monday night's freezing conditions caused icing and slippery footing for the firefighters, but there were no injuries to firefighters. Three tenants on the first floor and four on the second escaped the home without injury,said Deputy Fire Chief Wayne Springer.

Firefighters were able to fully extinguish the fire at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Springer said the home is a total loss. The roof and third floor have been destroyed; the second floor sustained heavy water and smoke damage and the first floor suffered water damage.

Fire investigators returned to the scene with a State Police accelerant-sniffing dog. However, the dog was not able to climb the unsafe stairs to the second-floor bedroom, where the fire originated.

Fire officials believe the blaze was caused by a candle, but Springer of the Fire Investigations Unit said they still need to talk to the tenant whose room is where the fire started. He added the Fire Department doesn't believe the fire was set intentionally, but are waiting to give the official ruling until after they speak to the tenant.

The two-family home was built in 1905. The structure is a Queen Anne style with Colonial Revival architectural elements, according to Arlington historian Richard A. Duffy. In 2002, the Historical Commission added the home to the town's inventory of architecturally and/or historically significant properties.

This is the second major fire on Bartlett Avenue since 2000. In 2000, blaze destroyed a home at 39 Bartlett Ave. The fire was caused when a plumper left a heat gun, used to unfreeze bathroom water pipes, unattended. The home was a total loss, but the residents have since rebuilt the home.

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