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The Boston Globe

Metro

‘It caught on fire so fast,’ East Boston victim says

Firefighters battled a six-alarm blaze on Wednesday morning.

Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

Firefighters battled a six-alarm blaze on Wednesday morning.

Accompanied by her dogs, Jeanette D’Angelo was puttering around the upper floor of the East Boston house she has lived in for 20 years when the shouting began and she smelled smoke.

Within moments, D’Angelo’s quiet morning was shattered when an electrical fire suddenly gained strength, becoming a six-alarm fire that destroyed D’Angelo’s home, a neighboring house, and damaged a third building.

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“At first, I didn’t think it was going to catch on,’’ D’Angelo said as she held her dog, Shawnee, a a few hours after the fire started near the intersection of Sumner and Webster streets today. “I saw smoke, and I thought it could be put out in time. But it was so fast. It caught on fire so fast.’’

D’Angelo said she was also alerted to the fire by shouts from her neighbors, Karen and Al Siciliano, who repeatedly urged her to get out of her house. “They said the house behind me was on fire,’’ D’Angelo said. “I ran out to see how bad it was. I saw smoke coming out the first floor.”

According to the Sicilianos and D’Angelo, after she stepped out of her front door, D’Angelo realized her three dogs were still inside and that she had locked the front door. Despite entreaties from the Sicilianos that she stay out of the house, D’Angelo and a friend, Greg Kruszewski, entered her house and rescued Shawnee, Spanky, and Daphne.

A Webster Street neighbor, Kruszewski said he looked out his first-floor window towards D’Angelo’s home.

“Everybody around was screaming, ‘there is a fire’ and then when I looked out the window, there is a big ball of flame coming out from behind,’’ he said. “Her house was catching fire as I looked.’’

Kruszewski said he rushed outside and, along with D’Angelo, ran inside her home at 102 Webster St. Rear. They found two dogs in the staircase and a third hiding underneath a table on an upper floor.

“I was really focused on getting Jeanette and the dogs out as quickly as possible,’’’ he said.

While inside, Kruszewski said, he noticed that the temperature inside the home was steadily and quickly, rising. Because there were no open flames, Kruszewski joked that he was no hero.

“No bravery involved in this instance,’’ he said.

He became more serious a moment later as he described what he saw once he, D’Angelo, and her three dogs were safely outside. “When I got out, the top of the house was already on fire,’’ he said. “You could see it [the rescue] was the last moments that we could get in safely.’’

For her part, D’Angelo was shaken by the entire experience.

She said she was “very frightened. It [the fire] was close proximity,’’ she said.

D’Angelo’s home was destroyed by the fire as was 309 Sumner St., according to the Boston Fire Department.

D’Angelo, who rents her home, said she did not have any insurance.

Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.
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