Firefighters battled a three-alarm fire in a building on Robert Ford Road in Watertown Friday, officials said.
The structure is a public housing facility overseen by the Watertown Housing Authority, and the residents from all 12 units escaped unharmed and have a place to stay, according to Michael Lara, executive director of the authority.
A call reporting the fire came in shortly after 11 a.m. Friday, Lara said, and emergency responders arrived within minutes. Lara himself was on scene by about 11:15 a.m., he said.
Early Friday afternoon, Lara was working with firefighters, police, and the Red Cross to help coordinate the emergency response, he said. The cause of the fire is unclear, he said, and the Watertown Fire Department will investigate.
Footage from media helicopters showed flames tearing through the roof of the building.
Esther Plummer, 71, lives at 68 Philip Darch Rd., near the home that caught fire. She said she saw smoke pouring from the building’s roof around 11 a.m.
“I went down to Dunkin’ Donuts and when I came back and pulled into my spot, there was a huge plume of smoke coming from a house near me and there were flames shooting from the roof, so I called 911,” Plummer said.
Plummer said she watched emergency crews evacuate people from the building.
“I watched them banging on the doors and getting people out,” she said. “Lots of people were standing near the house and the police had to tell them to move back.”
Watertown police wrote in a Tweet that people should avoid the area.
Cambridge firefighters tweeted that they were assisting at the scene.
Belmont police also responded to the scene. They wrote on Twitter that there was no cause for alarm.
ADVISORY: There is a 3-alarm fire in Watertown off Robert Ford Rd. The fire has drawn the attention of news helicopters that are presently hovering over the south west corner of Belmont. There is no cause for alarm.— Belmont, MA Police (@BelmontPD) January 24, 2020
Watertown police and fire officials did not have an immediate comment.