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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.