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9-alarm blaze in Allston displaces over 50

5 firefighters hurt

A nine-alarm fire tore through a brick apartment building in Allston on Wednesday night, injuring five firefighters and two bystanders and displacing more than 50 people, officials said.

Firefighters rushed to 8, 12, and 16 Harvard Terrace at 5:47 p.m. and found heavy fire on arrival, authorities said. Flames burst through the roof, and officials ordered all firefighters out of the building, located near a busy intersection with Brighton Avenue.

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Officials said that of the five firefighters hurt, two were taken to hospitals — one for a shoulder injury and one for smoke inhalation.

Fire Commissioner Joseph E. Finn, in a briefing at the scene, said about 54 people were displaced. He said the fire started in the rear of 12 Harvard Terrace and spread up through the roof. Two bystanders were taken to hospitals with minor injuries, officials said.

Eight Boston University students were among the displaced, according to BU Today, the school’s publicity website.

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The fire itself was contained to 12 Harvard Terrace, Finn said, adding that 8 and 16 Harvard Terrace sustained smoke and water damage.

Amid concerns about the building collapsing, firefighters established safety zones as heavy fire continued to burn on the top floor and roof and smoke kept pouring from the building. The roof at 12 Harvard Terrace eventually did collapse, Finn said.

From a parking lot on Brighton Avenue, behind the burning building, smoke could be seen billowing down the street. At least four aerial ladders were used, with firefighters spraying the building from atop them.

Finn said nine alarms were ordered because the area is congested, and because firefighters were having trouble with the water.

He estimated damages at $2 million and said the cause of the blaze remained under investigation.

As the fire raged, dozens of onlookers stood and stared around Brighton Avenue. The smell of smoke could be detected hundreds of yards away.

The Fire Department said that there appeared to be six apartments in each building, and that city officials and the Red Cross were at the Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Allston, helping the displaced find accommodations.

Tow truck driver Noel Pagan, 30, of Roxbury said he was parked near the scene when he saw a large cloud of black smoke.

“I came over and saw flames coming out of the building at like 100 miles an hour,” he said.

Another witness, Luiz Santana, said he was working at a hair salon in a nearby plaza when the fire started. He said the apartments were quickly engulfed in flames.

“It was crazy,” he said. “Very hot. I tried to get near it [to alert residents], but I couldn’t.”

Lydia Ferreira, 28, said she lives with her boyfriend in one of the apartments that caught fire. She lamented the loss of her visa in the blaze, which she said will make travel to her native Brazil difficult.

“I feel devastated,” she said. “I feel sad, and I lost everything.”

Rogerio Lima, 36, said he lives in one of the affected apartments but was not home when the fire started.

“I lost everything,” he said. “A lot of stuff.”

Mayor Martin J. Walsh praised the responding firefighters for being able to limit the damage.

“Thank God, no casualties,” he said at the scene.

Travis Andersen can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.
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