SCITUATE - A three-alarm fire stoked by high winds destroyed four beachfront houses here on Thursday and injured three firefighters, the town's fire chief said.
The blaze, which quickly engulfed the homes on Humarock Beach Road, was one of several fires in the state made worse by strong wind gusts, according to fire officials.
Scituate Fire Chief Richard Judge said firefighters responded to 111 Humarock Beach Road shortly before 2 p.m. after getting a call about a small kitchen fire.
However, Judge said, the house and another next door were fully engulfed when the first truck arrived, and a third house caught fire within minutes.
"It was just pushing it from one house to the next house,'' Judge said of the winds, which reached gusts of up to 50 miles per hour and caused problems for the roughly 40 firefighters who responded from Scituate and other towns.
Judge said three of the houses, which are summer cottages, were not occupied, and the homeowner who called 911 got out safely.
But three firefighters were taken to South Shore Hospital in Weymouth after suffering minor injuries battling the blaze, which took about two hours to bring under control, Judge said. He declined to comment further on their injuries.
Dianne Tarmey, 41, the owner of 111 Humarock, said at the scene that her husband, Mark, was upstairs when the fire alarm went off. She said he came down to find a fire in the kitchen, tried unsuccessfully to extinguish it, then ran out with their dog.
Tarmey said she was working at Brockton High School at the time, but her 14-year-old son was home after a half-day at school and was outside when the fire started.
She said her late mother raised nine children in the home and taught them to be resilient after it burned down on Christmas Eve in 1978. She said she was grateful that her son and husband were unharmed.
"You can always replace things, but you can't replace people,'' Tarmey said.
She also said several friends had offered to put the family up for the night, and that they plan to rebuild on the site. "We're from Humarock,'' she said. "We're tough.''
Roger Crawford, who owns a boat-building shop located near the scene of the blaze, said he saw one house engulfed when the fire started. He said he could see towering flames that appeared to be 100 feet high as the blaze quickly spread.
"It's as if you had a pile of kindling, had newspapers underneath it, put gasoline on it, and threw a match at it,'' Crawford said. "And then had 40-mile-an-hour winds blowing on it. This thing had its own life.''
Judge said Mark Tarmey indicated that a radio in his kitchen had caught fire. Judge could not pinpoint the exact cause of the fire on Thursday but said it was accidental. He also could not provide an estimate of damages.
The Tarmey home is valued at about $473,000, while the entire property is valued at just over $1 million, according to town assessor records. Property values for the other homes in the 100-block of the street range from about $600,000 to roughly $940,000, records show.
Judge said power lines fell onto the first firetruck that responded. He said the winds made it difficult for firefighters to attack the smoke and flames.
"You're chasing it, basically,'' he said.
State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan, at the scene, said fires in several other communities on Thursday were exacerbated by the high winds, including in Milton, Great Barrington, and on Martha's Vineyard. "Heavy winds such as this [create] havoc,'' for firefighters, Coan said.
In Milton, firefighters battled a three-alarm fire that started in the late morning in the 500 block of Adams Street, a short distance from East Milton Square.
Milton Deputy Fire Chief John Foley said that when firefighters arrived, the blaze had spread to multiple floors.
"They encountered heavy fire on the second floor and I believe the fire had taken possession of the third floor as well,'' he said, adding that one firefighter suffered from minor smoke inhalation and a few others received minor burns to their necks.
They were treated at the scene and did not need to go to the hospital, Foley said. He said everyone made it out of the house safely before firefighters arrived.
Martin Finucane of the Globe staff and Globe correspondents Colin A. Young, Zachary T. Sampson, and Alli Knothe contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe. Jessica Bartlett can be reached at Jessica.May.Bartlett@gmail.com.