Crews Battle Massive 10-Alarm Fire in Cambridge, Mass. - NBC Southern California
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Crews Battle Massive 10-Alarm Fire in Cambridge, Mass.

Witnesses say they heard an explosion from a home under construction in the area



    Eli Rosenberg reports on the 10-alarm fire that ripped through eleven buildings in Cambridge. (Published Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016)

    A raging blaze fueled by winds engulfed at least eight buildings in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Saturday afternoon, emitting a massive plume of smoke that could be seen for miles around.

    Cambridge firefighters struck 10 alarms for the fire near Berkshire and Vandine streets, which burned at least eight buildings and damaged up to 11 in total, plus several cars parked along the street.

    Mayor Denise Simmons says approximately six first responders sustained minor injuries and were taken to an area hospital, where they are doing well.

    "As far as we know, no residents have been hurt," Simmons said. "I'm amazed and I'm very pleased that we don't have any major casualties that we know of."

    As of 8:15 p.m., fire officials said the blaze had been contained.

    Responders' injuries ranged from a fall to breathing problems, according to officials.

    Multiple roads have been blocked off, and authorities are warning people to stay away from the area. More than 1,600 electrical customers have been left in the dark, because crews had to cut power to safely fight the blaze when it started burning primary electrical wires. Fire officials say they're uncertain when the power will be restored.

    Between 130 to 140 firefighters from 17 surrounding communities responded to the fire for mutual aid.

    Fire officials say the close proximity of the buildings, which appear to be mostly residential, also played a role in the fire's quick destruction. Wind gusts of more than 20 mph have been recorded in the area.

    "They responded very quickly to get the situation under control as fast as possible, and all the cities and towns," Simmons said. "I'm just very grateful for the amount of help and support that we've gotten from all the neighboring cities and towns around Cambridge to make sure that we keep the community safe."

    Although the cause of the fire is still unclear, witnesses say they heard an explosion from a home under construction in the area.

    Upwards of 60 people are believed to have been displaced, Cambridge Fire Chief Gerald Reardon says.

    "This looks like a third world country after a bombing," said Reardon. "It's a lot of devastation."

    The Frisoli Youth Center was initially where those displaced by the fire were directed to go; however, the shelter has been affected by the ongoing power outage.

    Simmons is recommending those who would like to help displaced residents make a donation to the Mayors Fire Relief Fund at Cambridge City Hall for now: Mayors Fire Relief Fund, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge MA 02139