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East Boston fire leaves one dead, several people in hospital

One dead, several others injured in East Boston fire
One dead, several others injured in East Boston fire 02:33

BOSTON - One person is dead and several others were hurt in a huge fire that started in a home in East Boston early Tuesday morning and spread to two others.

The Boston Fire Department said it started around 5 a.m. at a multi-family home on Meridian Street near West Eagle Street. When firefighters arrived heavy flames were shooting out of a second floor window. 

Boston Police homicide detectives called in

Boston Police told WBZ-TV that homicide detectives were called to the scene after one person was found dead. 

The fire department said six people living in the home and a firefighter were taken to the hospital. Police told WBZ at least one had life-threatening injuries.

5 East Boston residents rescued

Boston Fire Commissioner Paul Burke told reporters that five people were rescued from windows with ladders and that one child went to the hospital, but he did not known the child's condition. The commissioner said the firefighter taken to the hospital had a minor knee injury.

Because the houses are so close together in the neighborhood, the fire spread to a home next door and to a building in the back. Firefighters were forced out at one point but continued to douse the flames from other houses nearby.

"Someone was yelling outside," said Diego Rabelo who lives in a building that was damaged. He heard screaming, smelled smoke and jumped into action.

"And I started banging on people's doors to try to get everyone away to get outside," Rabelo said.  

East Boston fire cause unknown

"East Boston's always difficult but this was a tough fire," Burke said. "It was going so fast when they got there, we don't know how it started. I think it was in the back of this primary building where the fire started." 

The commissioner said investigators would be "here for a long time." A police spokesperson told WBZ it will be "a very long investigation."

$5 million in damage

Burke said the three buildings are a total loss and damage is estimated at about $5 million total. He said about 30 people in all were displaced and the Red Cross and Salvation Army are helping them find places to stay.

He and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu praised the 130 firefighters who were called to the scene.

"They worked very hard for hours trying to put this fire out. It was a stubborn fire," Burke told reporters. "It spread to two other buildings so it took a long time to extinguish this fire. The firefighters had to be rotated in and out because they were overheated, and they were working so hard."

Burke said the fire department's drone with a thermal camera was extremely helpful in fighting the fire. "A great tool," he told reporters.

"Extremely dangerous situation"

The mayor called it an "extremely dangerous situation."

"Without the actions and quick response from multiple neighborhoods around the city to address this fire, there surely would have been more lives lost," Wu said.

She shared her "deepest condolences" to the victim's family.

"It's incredibly heartbreaking to feel what that family must be feeling and we will do whatever we can at the city level to make sure that we are supporting all of those who were displaced," the mayor told reporters. 

Elenic Rablao lives in the neighborhood. She ran out of her house when she smelled the smoke.

"Life is so short, you don't know what could be next. You sleep, wake up and you don't know what's going to happen next. You have everything and then you have nothing, in a second," she told WBZ. 

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