By Sue Ellen Woodcock
A four-alarm fire broke out on Taft Street Tuesday morning around 4:15 a.m. in the same neighborhood hit by a tornado in 2014 leaving 18 people homeless.
When firefighters arrived they found two homes ablaze at 41 and 45 Tafts St. and soon found there was a problem with the water pressure coming from the hydrants. Fire Chief Chris Bright said they immediately called for additional help. Crews came from Somerville, Everett, Malden, Chelsea, MassPort, Saugus and Wakefield. One Cambridge firefighter was injured by debris.
“The initial responding crew was relieved at the 8 a.m. shift change,” said Capt. Tom Todisco of the Revere Fire Department.
The fire left 18 people displaced, including six children. Some residents in one of the buildings were awoken by a barking dog. The two homes were damaged to the point where they will most likely be taken down. Surrounding homes found their vinyl siding and fences melting from the intense heat.
Anthony Gamble, of 845 Revere Beach Parkway, at the backside of the burning homes, was awoken by his pet rabbit who was making a fuss in its cage. “I woke up and the room was lit up,” he said. He spent the early morning hours hosing down his house to minimize the damage.
Evans Elie, of 49 Tafts St., said he woke up to a loud popping sound and a bright orange, yellow glow.
“It looked like a big spotlight,” he said as he gathered with his family. His house sustained damage to the siding. “Ashes were dropping from the sky. We ran.”
Making things tricky, the utilities for the homes ran along the backside of the property. Until National Grid arrived firefighters had to use caution. The Red Cross was also slow to respond prompting the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency to come in. By late Tuesday morning displaced residents were sheltered at the First Congregational Church on Beach Street.
“Our thoughts are with the residents displaced by this morning’s four-alarm fire on Taft Street,” said Mayor Brian Arrigo.
As things wound down on the scene firefighters Lt. Dennis Russo and firefighter Paul Calsimetto continue to pour thousands of gallons of water on one home from the department’s ladder truck.
The cause of the fire was not determined by press time.