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    East Boston fire is blamed on heater

    Blaze displaced 21 residents

    The fire damaged a building on Sumner Street and one on Orleans Street. Two people were treated for smoke inhalation.
    The fire damaged a building on Sumner Street and one on Orleans Street. Two people were treated for smoke inhalation.

    A portable heater placed too close to combustible material in a third-floor bedroom caused a five-alarm fire that damaged two buildings in East Boston, displacing 21 residents, fire ­officials said Tuesday.

    The fire broke out around 11:30 p.m. Monday and ended up damaging 43-45 Orleans St. and an adjoining building at 263-265 Sumner St., which is located near a firehouse.

    “It’s about 60 yards from the firehouse,’’ said Boston Fire Depart­ment spokesman Steve MacDonald. “There was heavy fire on the third floor and through the roof. When they [firefighters] came out of the firehouse and turned right, it was right there.’’


    Deputy Fire Chief Richard DiBenedetto said at the scene early Tuesday morning that he called for extra help because of the close proximity of the buildings in East Boston, the sub-freezing temperatures, and the heavy volume of fire.

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    MacDonald said 100 firefighters, including an engine crew from Chelsea, responded to the scene. The fire was brought under control around 12:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Two residents were taken to Massachusetts General Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation, MacDonald said. No firefighters were injured.

    Residents described how they fled the flames that suddenly enveloped their homes.

    Dylan Durning, 29, and ­Evan Dooley, 28, evacuated their apartment at 265 Sumner St. when they became aware that the roof of their building was also on fire.


    “Nobody was hurt,” Dooley said. “People were going around knocking on doors when we left.”

    Erasmo Gomez, 17, said he ran out of his second-floor apartment when the fire started and alerted the nearby firehouse.

    “I can’t even talk,” said Gomez, who was wrapped in a blanket at the scene. “I’m freezing, I’m scared. I’m scared to go back to my house.”

    He said that when he ran to the firehouse he was also praying for his family and his puppy, who all made it out safely.

    Globe correspondents Haven Orecchio-Egresitz and Todd Feathers contributed to this ­report. John R. Ellement can
    be reached at ellement@ T
    ravis Andersen
    can be reached at tandersen@