Chief Timothy J. Grenno reports that the Whitman Fire Department extinguished a 5-alarm blaze at a multi-family home on Commercial Street Wednesday night.
More than 15 fire departments and approximately 80 firefighters responded to the fire at the three-story, six-unit wood-frame home at 316-318 Commercial St. No injuries were reported and all residents inside of the building made it to safety prior to firefighters' arrival.
At approximately 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, the Whitman Fire Department received a 911 call reporting a fire at apartment building.
Upon arrival, heavy flames were coming from a second-story window. The fire was spreading to the third floor and simultaneously burning the wooden deck outside of the window.
Deputy Chief Joe Feeney immediately struck a second alarm. Because of the size of the building and its wood-frame structure, the fire quickly spread through the house and Chief Grenno called for additional mutual aid from other towns, striking a fifth alarm at approximately 9:25 p.m.
Firefighters battled the blaze and were able to prevent it from spreading to nearby homes. The heaviest flames were knocked down by approximately 9:30 p.m.
Crews worked to overhaul the house and extinguish any remaining hot spots until approximately 12:30 a.m. Thursday. The scene has since been cleared and a Whitman Fire engine company will be standing by the house on a fire watch throughout the night.
All residents of the apartment building (at least 12 residents) were displaced as a result of the fire. The American Red Cross responded to the scene to assist residents in finding shelter for the night.
The building was a total loss, and including personal possessions, Chief Grenno estimates that the damage totaled upwards of $1 million.
The preliminary investigation indicates that the fire started in a second floor apartment. The cause of the fire is under investigation by Whitman Fire and investigators from the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services (DFS). They will continue their investigation later Thursday morning, but at this time it does not appear to be suspicious.
Chief Grenno said that he did not know when the last fire inspection was done at the building, but that it had previously been up to code. "This fire spread extremely fast and I want to commend our firefighters and those from our surrounding communities who responded to help put this fire out as quickly as they did," Chief Grenno said. "We are thankful that no one was hurt and that all residents were quickly able to be accounted for."
Firefighters from the following communities responded to assist on the call: Hanson, Abington, East Bridgewater, West Bridgewater, Bridgewater, Rockland, Brockton, Norwell, Hanover, Halifax, Hingham, Holbrook, Randolph, Marshfield, Avon and Pembroke.
In addition, the Whitman Police Department, Whitman Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), DFS Rehabilitation Unit and Boston Sparks Association A-10 also responded to the scene.