UPDATED: Firefighters Battled Four Alarm Fire in West Watertown

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Contributed by Lin Themelis

Fire blazed on the side of a home on Robert Ford Road Friday. The four alarm blaze damaged 12 units in the Watertown Housing Authority complex.

Fire blazed on the side of a home on Robert Ford Road Friday. The four alarm blaze damaged 12 units in the Watertown Housing Authority complex.

A four-alarm blaze broke out on Robert Ford Road in Watertown Friday morning, which took more than an hour to extinguish.

The Fire Department received numerous calls about smoke coming from the area just after 11 a.m. Friday, said Watertown Deputy Fire Chief Tom McManus. The fire was extinguished by 12:45 p.m. The cause of the fire is remains under investigation, McManus said.

The fire damaged buildings in the complex that is owned by the Watertown Housing Authority. It started in 62 Robert Ford Road, and spread.

“It got into the roof system of the building. There are two areas where there are fire walls and it went to the fire wall on each side,” McManus said.

Firefighters battle flames in the first floor of the building on Robert Ford Road.

Twelve units were damaged by the fire, McManus said, and the 31 occupants have been displaced. One person was transported to the hospital, but was not due to injuries from smoke or fire, McManus said. Firefighters were able to save two cats from the building.

Eleven of the 12 units in the affected buildings were occupied, said Michael Lara, executive director of the Watertown Housing Authority. Lara praised the fast response of Watertown Fire and Police.

“They told us exactly what was going on, and residents were OK. That’s the number one concern,” Lara said. “We’ve got young families who have got kids. They’ve got a place to stay for tonight.”

The roof collapsed during the fire in the Watertown Housing Authority complex on Robert Ford Road.

Lara said the displaced residents will be put up in hotel rooms, and the Watertown Housing Authority is working with the state to find places for people to go in the long term.

“We have a few vacancies in Watertown, but some are going to be displaced outside of Watertown,” Lara said.

One of two cats saved from the from the fire on Robert Ford Road was put into a pet carrier by an off-duty firefighter.

Nearby resident Kathy O’Hara said she spotted the fire when she went out to put out her recycling.

“I saw smoke coming out of the roof!” O’Hara said.

The complex was built in the 1930s. They had been re-sided and got roofs replaced in the past decade. Each building has up several units inside, said resident Angela Chase

Now all those people don’t have a phone,” Chase said.

Damage can be seen from the fire that struck buildings on Robert Ford Road. Twelve units were damaged and 31 residents were displaced.

She and neighbor Stephanie Ciccarelli were evacuated from their apartments and could not get in to get their dogs out.

“These houses are supposed to be helping people and now it’s gone,” Ciccarelli said.

Watertown Firefighters spray water on the fire on Robert Ford Road from the platform of a ladder truck.

One of the buildings attached to the one hardest hit appeared to have suffered damage as well. Shortly before noon flames could still be seen in a first floor unit, and lapping at an area of the roof that has not yet collapsed.

McManus called a second alarm at about 11:14 a.m., and a third alarm was called less than 10 minutes later. In all, the number of fire crews called respond was equivalent to a four alarm fire.

“I called a third alarm and kept calling for more apparatus,” McManus said. “So the number of apparatus and people was equal to four alarm.”

A Waltham firefighter helps put out the fire on Robert Ford Road. Several fire departments responded to the four alarm blaze.

Fire crews from Waltham, Belmont, Newton, Arlington and Boston have responded to the scene to assist Watertown firefighters.

By the time Watertown firefighters had arrived, police officers had evacuated residents of the buildings, McManus said.

“They did a great job,” he said.

See video from the fire via Watertown Cable Access.

4 thoughts on “UPDATED: Firefighters Battled Four Alarm Fire in West Watertown

  1. There are several town organizations collecting donations for the families that lived here. PLEASE use caution when donating. Earlier today I saw that an individual has started a fundraising page and claims the money will go to all the families. Well I think we all know that these types of fundraising pages are not always well run, sometimes not legit, and not very well organized or monitored. Not to be a Debbie Downer but it seems a bit questionable to me to see one person collecting the money and saying they will distribute it. I can see many problems arising from that.

    Use your smarts when donating.

  2. Watertown High School will be collecting gift cards in their main office for those displaced by the fire. Students from The Cunniff, Lowell, Watertown Middle School and Watertown High School have been effected. Our thoughts and support are with all the families.

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