Two-alarm house fire displaces 24 Cambridge residents

With the surge of power outages caused by tropical storm Irene, many Massachusetts residents are resorting to candles to light their homes. But remember to blow out the candles before you leave or go to bed, or a serious fire could result.

An unattended candle in Cambridge, Massachusetts, sparked a two-alarm house fire that left 24 people homeless and caused $200,000 worth of damage Saturday night. Apparently, the candle was left burning in a second-floor bedroom in a two-family home on Montgomery Street.

While none of the 24 people living in the home were hurt in the fire, several firefighters had to be treated for burns after responding to the scene. Of the firefighters injured, only one with an eye injury had to be sent to the hospital.

According to the Cambridge Deputy Fire Chief, the department received a call reporting the fire at about 9:53 p.m. on Saturday. When firefighters arrived at the scene, they saw flames in a second story window, and by 10:15 p.m., the first went to a second alarm.

There were about 60 firefighters called in to put out the flames, which the Deputy Fire Chief said took until about 11 p.m. to do. Although it had been very windy earlier in the day, the Deputy Fire Chief said that the wind had died down quite a bit and so they were able to fight the fire in about an hour.

House fires can be caused by a variety of things such faulty wiring, dangerous heaters, poor construction and defective appliances. Blocked or inadequate fire escapes in homes or apartments can turn any fire fatal.

Fire safety experts and other specialists are often called in to determine the exact cause of the fire and if there were any building code violations. Sometimes landlords, manufacturers of defective household goods and furniture, city officials, contractors and others bear responsibility for fatal fires and are sued by the family members of those killed.

Source: Cambridge Chronicle, “Two-alarm fire caused by unattended candle displaces 24 in Cambridge,” Aug. 29, 2011.