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30 families displaced in Cambridge fire have found permanent homes

Firefighters battled a 10-alarm fire on Berkshire and York streets in Cambridge on Dec. 3.
Firefighters battled a 10-alarm fire on Berkshire and York streets in Cambridge on Dec. 3. BRETT BOSTON FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

Thirty families whose homes were destroyed when a 10-alarm blaze spread through a Cambridge neighborhood Dec. 3 had found permanent homes by Wednesday, according to city officials.

The fire, which authorities say was accidental, moved quickly through the Wellington-Harrington neighborhood on a Saturday afternoon. It began shortly before 3 p.m. at a three-family home on Berkshire Street that was undergoing renovations, but the fire spread, jumping across the street.

In just four minutes, the fire destroyed or damaged seven buildings and nine cars. Authorities said strong winds and densely packed areas of wood-framed housing caused the fire to move quickly.


The flames affected 18 buildings in all, caused an estimated $10 million to $15 million in damage, and displaced about 120 people.

Firefighters from more than 20 municipalities were brought in to help contain the fire.

In the days after the blaze, Assistant Fire Chief Gerry Mahoney said it was “nothing short of a miracle” that nobody died.

While many people will eventually return to their homes, 44 families were left in need of new permanent housing, according to Lee Gianetti, spokesman for the city.

After the blaze, officials began looking for ways to help those who were left homeless. Mayor Denise Simmons set up a GoFundMe page that had raised $700,000 in donations by Wednesday afternoon, and City Hall set up a resource center for families to be connected with appropriate aid.

Gianetti said five of the 44 households do not require help in finding new housing.

“The city is continuing to work with the additional households to find them permanent housing,” Gianetti said.

Joseph Buswell’s family is among those who have yet to find a home.

“We lived in the house right next door to where the fire started, and they tore our house down the day after the fire,” Buswell said.


Buswell and his wife, Emily, ran a day-care center in their home. Now they’re having problems renting a place that will let them continue to care for children.

“We lost our home, we lost our furniture, we lost our clothing, and we lost our livelihood,” Buswell said. In the meantime, he said, the couple is staying with their son in Somerville.

Olivia Quintana can be reached at olivia.quintana@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @oliviasquintana.