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Fire engulfs North End building early on Christmas

Boston Fire worked to surround and extinguish a five-alarm blaze at 52 Hull St. in the North End early Christmas morning.Scott Eisen for The Boston Globe

Boston firefighters battled a five-alarm blaze in the North End on Christmas morning, according to fire officials.

Crews arrived at the corner of Hull and Snow Hill streets in the historic neighborhood about 4:15 a.m. to find heavy fire on the roof and top floor of 52 Hull St., a four-story brick apartment building at that intersection, according to Boston Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald.

Flames spread across all floors, but by about 5:15, the heavy fire had been knocked down. Firefighters continued to train their hoses on hot spots into mid-morning. The blaze caused the building’s roof to collapse, and firefighters were concerned that a rear wall could be unstable, the department said.


Because of the holiday no one was home when the fire began, and no residents were injured, the department said. Two firefighters sustained minor orthopedic injuries, one to the shoulder and one to the arm.

“It’s great that no one was injured. The sad thing is that it’s Christmas Day and some lives have been disrupted because of the fire,” MacDonald said.

The building contains four units, three of which were occupied by two people each, according to the department. The fourth unit was vacant. The six women who lived in the building and were displaced will be able to spend the holiday with friends or family.

Fire Chief Joseph Finn estimated the damage to the building at $4 million, according to the department.

Another 12 adults who live in two adjoining buildings were also displaced, MacDonald said.

Five adults were displaced from 50 Hull St., a neighboring three-story apartment building. Because the roof of 52 Hull St. collapsed, engineers will evaluate the stability of the neighboring building to determine whether it’s safe for those apartments’ residents to return, MacDonald said.

Firefighters sprayed water at the North End fire.Scott Eisen for The Boston Globe/Globe Freelance

Another seven adults were displaced from 33 Snow Hill St. The four-story apartment building, which is downhill from the fire, has pools of water in its basement that damaged its utilities. Residents should be able to return to the building in a day or two, MacDonald said.


People who lived in the 50 Hull St. and 33 Snow Hill St. buildings were home during the fire but were able to safely evacuate.

The American Red Cross was on hand to offer assistance, but MacDonald said it didn’t have to assist anyone because the residents of all three buildings were able to stay with friends or family.

The North End’s narrow streets typically make tackling fires in the area challenging, but firefighters had an easier time because of 52 Hull St.’s corner location. Crews were able to approach the fire from four directions, MacDonald said.

MacDonald estimated that crews will be putting out hot spots throughout Christmas morning and will remain throughout the day to monitor the scene.

Smoke and flames came from the top floor at the scene of a five-alarm fire at 52 Hull St.Scott Eisen for The Boston Globe/Globe Freelance

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox. Reena Karasin can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @reenakarasin.