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Six-alarm fire in Cambridge displaces 100 people

CAMBRIDGE - A six-alarm fire tore through a large apartment building near Central Square here early today, injuring one firefighter and displacing approximately 100 residents, city officials said.

No injuries to residents were reported; the firefighter was only “slightly hurt,’’ said Assistant Cambridge Fire Chief James Burns.

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Firefighters responded to the fire at 884 Massachusetts Ave. at about 12:30 a.m., Burns said. The right side of the building sustained the most damage from the fire, while the left side was mostly untouched, Burns said.

Approximately 100 residents from 57 units were taken to the Citywide Senior Center for shelter. They are receiving assistance from the American Red Cross, according to spokeswoman Ashley Studley.

Burns said residents are being allowed to return briefly to their apartments today and that residents living on the left side of the building may be allowed to return home by this evening.

But the smoke and water damage on the right side of the building is too extensive to permit those residents to return as quickly, he said. From the sidewalk, the damage to the right side was visible, with mounds of window glass lying on the ground and black soot stains around window frames on the right side and the rear of the building’s upper floors.

Standing outside the building this morning, two women who said they live on the fifth floor on the right side of the building recounted their harrowing experiences.

The roommates, who declined to provide their names, said they were awakened by smoke alarms, and one of them decided to evacuate immediately.

The roommate who left first said she did not see any smoke in their apartment, hallway, or as she made her way down to the first floor.

Leaving about five minutes later, the second roommate said there was smoke in the hallway outside her apartment, and that the smoke intensified as she walked down the stairwell. As she neared the first floor, the second roommate said, sparks mixed in with the thick smoke.

“I was very scared,’’ the second roommate said. “It was very terrible.’’

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Fire officials have not yet released a damage estimate.

Catalina Gaitan can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @catalina_gaitan.Evan Allen can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @evanmallen.
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