Massachusetts fire displaces dozens of college students

Dozens of college students at Northeastern University in Boston who just returned for fall semester received a not-so-friendly welcoming when their apartment building endured a three-alarm fire early yesterday morning. The fire displaced about 40 people, but luckily no burn injuries were reported.

Fire department officials said that the blaze ignited around 2:30 a.m. at an unspecified location at 90 Westland Ave. and soon engulfed much of the building. The building was six stories, with a store and sandwich shop on the first floor and apartments housing mostly students filling the upper levels.

There were about 75 firefighters that responded to the fire and discovered flames shooting out of the building’s roof. Firefighters evacuated residents from the building and no one will be allowed back in until the structure is deemed safe, a spokesman for the fire department said.

The spokesman said that he is unsure when the building will be liable again, and much of it has to do with the residents’ insurance companies.

“It all depends on the property owners, their dealings with insurance companies, the scope of the damage. It could be months,” the spokesman told the Boston Globe yesterday. “It’s hard to say right now. It’s too early to tell.”

A spokeswoman from Northeastern University said that the 12 displaced students will be provided with a place to stay on campus. The rest of the students were from nearby schools such as Wentworth Institute of Technology and Berklee College of Music. It is not known if these schools will offer shelter.

Unfortunately, many of the residents likely do not carry renter’s insurance, which is not required in most apartment buildings. Almost all homeowners are protected by homeowners’ insurance because it is a requirement to obtain a mortgage in most cases.

Now is a good time to ask your college-aged son or daughter if they are covered by renter’s insurance – you never know when a fire may strike due to the negligence of another.

Source: Boston Globe, “Fenway fire displaces many students,” Jaime Lutz and Amanda Cedrone, Sept. 6, 2011.