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Fall River blaze leaves 13 families homeless

A four-alarm fire fueled by heavy winds swept through three homes in Fall River yesterday, displacing 13 families and gutting a three-story building.

District Fire Chief John Lynch said crews responded around 4 p.m. yesterday to the blaze at 170 Hood St., where the three-story home was already engulfed in flames. He said the blaze quickly spread to two adjoining six-family homes.

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Lynch, a 26-year-veteran of the force, said strong winds helped feed the fire. “The wind was immense,’’ he said. “When we pulled up on the scene that original fire building was fully engulfed. That was in the middle of the day.’’

Lynch said he rarely sees fires of such proportion during the day because people are awake and quickly report blazes.

“In my experience it’s one of the worst daytime fires I’ve seen, aside from mill fires,’’ he said.

With the help of about 200 firefighters, including some from the surrounding towns of Somerset, Swansea, Westport, and Tiverton, R.I., crews had the inferno under control by about 6 p.m., Lynch said.

Officials said a few fire personnel stayed on Hood Street throughout the night to put out any hot spots.

One firefighter suffered minor burns to an arm and leg because the flames burned through his coat, Lynch said.

The district chief said firefighters experienced water problems battling the blaze and had to use water from several streets away.

The three-family home at 170 Hood St. had collapsed by the end of the day, and the six-family home next door, at 178 and 186 Hood St., where flames swept through the roof, was severely damaged. Lynch also said the house at 156 and 164 Hood St., which included two unoccupied apartments, had lesser damage.

A Red Cross team responded to help the displaced families, Lynch said, most of whom he believed were staying with family and friends. He said the four families who lived at 156 and 164 Hood St. should be able to return within two weeks, though the residents of 178 and 186 Hood St. “won’t be able to go back in that house for quite a while.’’

The cause of the fire is under investigation, and no further information was available last night, Lynch said.

Zachary T. Sampson can be reached at
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