BROCKTON — Multiple people escaped a burning building through a second-story window in south Brockton Friday night, as a three-alarm fire consumed apartments on the first floor, according to fire officials.
Rey Ponce, 38, said he kicked the window open and jumped to safety as his girlfriend, 39-year-old Myriam Legrand, threw their young children down to him and other building residents waiting to catch them.
By the time Legrand checked for a way out her front door, smoke from the fire, had already filled the hallway. She was hesitant to go out the window, but knew it was the only way out.
“I didn’t want to drop my kids,” she said Saturday afternoon, outside the burned building. “And I didn’t want to jump. But we had no choice.”
Fourteen people escaped the building at 835 Montello St. and no injuries were reported, according to Brockton Fire Deputy Chief Kevin Galligan.
The fire broke out in the kitchen of a first-floor unit and quickly spread through the three-story multi-family home, Galligan said in a phone interview Saturday.
The home sustained an estimated $600,000 in damage, and the cause of the fire remained under investigation Sunday, Brockton Fire Deputy Chief Scott Albanese said.
The home was also the scene of a fire on Good Friday in 1986, where a 7-year-old boy was killed and his mother suffered serious burns, according to Galligan, who shared news clippings from the Brockton Enterprise reporting on the fire at the time.
“We were talking about it all day today,” Galligan said on Saturday. “It’s the weirdest thing.”
The fire was already burning on all three levels when crews responded to the initial call around 10 p.m. Galligan said.
“It broke out a window and went up the side of the house to the second and third floors,” Galligan said.
Legrand’s downstairs neighbor, Rodelyne Joseph, said she had just returned from visiting a sick friend when she saw flames engulfing her apartment. Her 17-year-old daughter, Soragna Cameau, had been asleep inside.
“I was calling her name,” Joseph said Saturday outside the building. “As soon as I opened the door the smoke blinded me, but I just kept going for her.”
Before she went to sleep, Cameau said she checked all the appliances in the kitchen, part of her nightly routine before going to bed. Everything was off when she went to sleep, she said. Nothing woke her up until her mother burst through the door calling her name.
“I was so panicked,” Joseph said, choking back tears. “Thank God, I got here in time. When I got here, my daughter was the only thing on my mind. If I didn’t come in time, who knows what would have happened.”
Paul Burnham, a contractor who does maintenance for the building, said he saw the fire from his home across the street.
Legrand walked around the burned rubble outside the house Saturday afternoon, beneath the windows and doors blown out by smoke and ash.
She pointed to an upside-down sofa and a set of overturned pink chairs, scuffed and tattered. In the pile of seared furniture, she found a portrait of her oldest son, Malick, now 14, when he was a baby.
She gripped the photograph, covered in grass and dirt but intact, close to her chest.