By Sue Ellen Woodcock
Officials still do not have a cause of last week’s early morning fire at 41 and 45 Taft St. that left 18 people homeless.
According to officials, the fire started at the rear of 41 Taft St. Both homes sustained extensive damage and so far 41 Taft St. residence has been torn down.
After the fire, there was much talk about the fire hydrants in the neighborhood. Firefighters had a hard time getting the caps off two hydrants, and a fire truck from MassPort was getting low pressure when hooked up to another hydrant. Later, there was discovered in the Massport truck’s strainer system, an old spacer used in plumbing work when the water main was put in about 30 to 40 years old.
“That caused the problem MassPort had,” said DPW director Don Goodwin.
As for the other two hydrants, Goodwin said firefighters could not get the caps off the hydrants. His crew was called to the fire in the early morning to help with the hydrants. Officials also said that
sometimes, the fact that multiple engines are connected to hydrants that are fed from the same water main will cause a drop in pressure.
“DPW staff got the hydrants working and able to get water, during the fire” Goodwin said.
Goodwin said these are just three of the more than 900 hydrants in the city.
“The fire department and the DPW will do a joint task force on how to service the hydrants,” Goodwin said. “I am in discussions with the new chief.” Following the fire, DPW crews went to several hydrants that are in the neighborhood. Some hydrants had problems with the caps that wouldn’t twist off. Presently, the DPW repairs the hydrants that they know are broken, Goodwin said.
Fire Chief Chris Bright said they also held a meeting in the Mayor’s office on Tuesday to discuss what facts that they learned from the fire.
He added that one resident was awakened at 3 a.m. and smelled smoke but figured it was coming from someplace else and went back to bed. At 4:15 a.m. the alarms sounded.
“Firefighters arrived to two fully engulfed homes,” Bright said. “The cause has not yet been determined but careless disposal of a cigarette cannot be ruled out,” Bright said.
“Adding to the danger on the scene were a ruptured gas line in the back of one house and high voltage electrical wires that snapped. National Grid was called in to secure the area.