Massive fire strikes Allston apartment buildings

Fire on Harvard Terrace, Allston

Allston Fire

Photo by Dan Esdale. Video by Neil Tuli:

A large fire ripped through two six-unit apartment buildings on Harvard Terrace, off Harvard Avenue and behind Brighton Avenue. By 6:25, the fire had gone to five alarms; by 6:50 p.m. to seven alarms. Fire commanders initially ordered firefighters off the roof, then, as the fire progressed, out of the more heavily engaged building.

Shortly after the seventh alarm was struck, firefighters were ordered out of the second building as the original building looked ready to collapse entirely.

Eighth and ninth alarms were struck shortly after 7:15 p.m.

Two firefighters were taken to the hospital, one with smoke inhalation, one with a shoulder injury, the Boston Fire Department reports. Three others were treated at the scene. Two bystanders were treated for minor injuries.

Ethan Long reported from a press conference with fire officials after the fire was knocked down.

Cause under investigation. "Could be a number of things." Originated from rear porch.

Fire started on first floor, rapidly expanded.

They will investigate the structural integrity of building before another search continues. Roof did collapse.

The department reports 54 people were displaced; the Red Cross set up a shelter at the Jackson Mann School.

Damage was estimated at $2 million; the cause is under investigation.

Firefighters from surrounding communities came into Boston to cover Boston fire stations.

See the comments for more photos.

Andrea Crossan photographed the scene:

Harvard Terrace fire



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    More photos

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    Why UH matters

    WHDH called it "a fire in Brighton" for the entire newscast. It's an ambiguous line for sure, but east of Allston St. is decidedly Allston.

    So Allston

    By on

    My first apartment was across the street from Harvard Terrace on Farrington. That is firmly Allston.

    (I'm all grown up now and living in Brighton. These difference matter, folks!)

    totally allston

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    we used to sit on the steps of the "Bacon Chambers" between the Alehouse and Kinvara across from Harvard Terrace. I dated a girl that lived on that street and used to get pissed when the mail trucks would wake me up. it's been a rough couple of weeks in Allston Brighton. prayers to all

    My father called me up asking

    My father called me up asking if I'm okay because of this reporting. Now I know newsfolk generally come from all over wherever there's work, but someone needs to just at least look at a damn map or have some familiarity with the city before producing the copy. Ugh.

    Yeah, because the exact name

    Yeah, because the exact name of the neighborhood is really the most important thing about this story.

    Everybody repeat after me:

    "Allston is part of Brighton."

    Repeat fifty times until you figure it out.

    The South End isn't part of

    The South End isn't part of Back Bay. Charlestown isn't part of West Roxbury. They are all part of Boston. Just because Allston and Brighton are on a tumor sticking out on the map doesn't mean they are one and the same despite referred to as some as Allston-Brighton. The distinction is important.

    Allston was an eastern section of the former town of Brighton.


    Allston has never existed as a separate political entity in its own right. The Town of Brighton was annexed by the City of Boston in 1874.

    Honestly, though, a nine-alarm fire, and people are bitching about the news media calling Allston "Brighton" (as they always do, and have for as long as I can remember). Just shut the fuck up.

    If I'm heading home from work

    If I'm heading home from work and there's a big fuckoff fire declared to be in my neighbourhood, I want to know it's true and not 5 miles down the road, sorry. do you consider BU to be in "Brighton" too?

    If you live in Allston, you

    If you live in Allston, you should be used to people on the news calling it "Brighton" by now. And presumably if they give you the name of the street, you can figure it out.

    Well, I live in Brighton and

    Well, I live in Brighton and this fire in Allston was reported as being in Brighton, which prompted family to call me asking if I was near a fire without knowing it was going on.

    Allston is a part of Brighton

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    Just like Savin Hill and Mattapan are a part of Dorchester, or Mission Hill and JP are a part of Roxbury.

    When a city/town that already contains neighborhoods is annexed by another city, you get neighborhoods within neighborhoods.

    NYC solved this problem with boroughs. If you think of the former cities of Brighton, Roxbury and Dorchester as boroughs instead of neighborhoods, it all makes a whole lot more sense.

    Jamaica Plain is a part of WEST Roxbury

    By on

    I don't know if the NYC solution would work, as those are tight boundaries. Just look at Marble Hill and think about how people about Hyde Park vs Readville.

    I know the history and reason, but I've always thought it odd that the old center of the Town of West Roxbury is not called West Roxbury, while the former rural hinterlands are.


    I just saw this on 9 news denver, co. I can't find a link on their website to show you...

    I can easily imagine this as

    By on

    I can easily imagine this as the result of students that moved in on Monday, and either overloaded an outlet, tried to grill something on the porch, went outside to smoke and threw out the butt carelessly, or some other mistake that they might not have known was forbidden for a reason, and now that mistake is costing them way too much before their college year even gets started. Augh.

    Allston is more than students

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    That street and area is heavily populated by immigrants from Brazil and central America. I know some Brazilians who used to stay on that street.
    Allston is incredibly diverse.

    Allston fire tragedy

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    Investigation may very well show that the fire started from a grill - many people disregard the Boston fire code that prohibits grills being stored or used on fire escapes, balconies, decks etc.
    How many more lives and homes destroyed will it take for people to forgo that piece of grilled meat?


    I'm not disagreeing with you but given the recent articles on the conditions of many of these places it's almost a given that there was more to this fire spreading so rapidly. It's great that no one was seriously hurt. It will be interesting to hear what an investigation yields, particularly what types of things inspectional services had overlooked or not follow up on.

    I've heard if you call it in

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    I've heard if you call it in to BFD, they'll show up and just turn the hose on it. That's how seriously they take it.

    I wonder how many landlords

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    I wonder how many landlords warn their tenants about grills on decks/porches as fire hazards. When I first moved into my apartment, having arrived here from Mexico, I saw that the previous tenant had left their grill on the porch (there was even some fireproof material beneath it, taped to the floorboards with duct tape). Since I wasn't aware of the issue, and was ignorant of regulations regarding fire hazards, I thought, "Hey, free grill!" And I might have even considered using it if the landlord hadn't removed it himself before I had even brought my bed in.

    It was only after I asked him about it that I learned that grills are prohibited for this very reason. My ignorance could have cost me dearly all those years ago; I wonder if it was the case with the tenants on Harvard Terrace.

    At least they don't do it

    At least they don't do it Chicago style

    IE take a screen off a window, fill bathtub with coals, throw screen on top, grille.

    You know, what could prevent

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    You know, what could prevent this? Fireproof construction. Maybe not with old buildings, but at least with new ones. And what do we see? Now they are building 5 story apartment buildings out of wood. Yes, there are sprinklers, but it's still a gain matchbox. I can't believe anyone is buying condos in all those new buildings, where only thing that separates you from neighbors is free sheets of drywall.
    Multi family houses should be brick/block/steel and concrete.

    yes sir.

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    yes sir.
    In majority of Europe where I grew up all construction, especially multifamily is reinforced concrete, including brick interior walls and concrete floors.

    Fires like this rarely ever happen in Europe.
    Just in that area of Allston I think there are about 5 multifamily houses that completely burned down within the last 3 years,

    And they are all rebuilt with wooden frames, plastic siding and plywood.
    Rinse repeat.


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    Not to mention, europe's use of concrete and terracotta isn't just about fire. They kind of cut down all their trees by the colonial era, while we still have a pretty hefty amount. Basically, they couldn't build with wood on any real scale, even if they wanted to.

    Check your history

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    This was an older building. Brick walls and the like. Indeed, if you'd been listening to your scanner, you would have heard the fire department confirm that the fire was contained to one segment of the building by fire walls.

    "Fire proof" doesn't exist. You could have made it more fire resistant by removing the wooden porches. And any flammable wall and floor coverings. And all furniture. Heck, don't even allow tenants as they're a huge cause of fires...

    (Off the top of my head, the last 4 fires of note in Boston all occurred in buildings which were at least 50 years old.)

    98% of all wood frame / Brick

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    98% of all wood frame / Brick houses in Boston were built in the late 1880s & 1890s , ever since the first wave of european immigrants came across the Atlantic. And that's who built most of these structures..From brick buildings in the north end to Triple deckers in Dorchester.

    Take Beacon Park over , and

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    Take Beacon Park over , and use shipping containers , to create Muti-family housing , the sky's the limit ! That will show the lumber yard who's boss !

    Those shipping containers are

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    Those shipping containers are coated with heavily leaded paint to resist sea salt.

    NOT a good environment to live in despite it being 'chic' in design circles.