By Harry Kane
A top floor, two-alarm fire took residents by surprise at a four-story building at 34 Highland Ave. and shut down a main thoroughfare on Tuesday, adding to the rash of fires that have wreaked havoc on the city this summer.
The Somerville Fire Department responded to the blaze at 12:52 p.m. on Aug. 27. Smoke was coming from the fourth floor as firefighters arrived. The fire originated in apartment 8R.
Firefighters had to open the roof to ventilate the fire. They were able to prevent the fire from spreading into the structure above the ceilings.
“The fire was basically contained to that apartment and the adjoining wall to apartment 8F,” said Chief Kevin Kelleher of the Somerville Fire Department.
The fourth floor of the 16-unit apartment building suffered from significant smoke and water damage. Lower levels display signs of minor water damage.
The American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts estimated some 11 people, part of four families, were displaced due to the fire. No injuries were reported.
“There may be additional people on the lower level, who will get home, and when they get in their apartments, who may be displaced due to water coming down through the floors,” Chief Kelleher said.
The fire was investigated by the Somerville Fire Department Investigation Unit. The cause of the fire has been attributed to an electrical issue and was deemed accidental.
The fire was contained by 1:30 p.m. All the fire companies left the scene at 2:44 p.m.
Responders included all the Somerville fire engines, three ladders, rescue, two chief officers and a two engines from Cambridge, according to Chief Kelleher.
“I think under the circumstances of how difficult it was for firefighters to get hoses to reach to the fourth floor, and negotiate the winding stairways, the firefighters did a tremendous job,” Chief Kelleher said.
Chief Kelleher estimates the cost of damages to be $200,000.
While the Highland Ave. fire is not suspicious, public safety authorities are once again urging the residents of Somerville to remain vigilant and practice safe fire prevention methods.