Shortly after 11 p.m., people from North Cambridge and Porter Square to the Fenway, the Back Bay and Roxbury began reporting a strong burning smell. Fire departments in both cities started getting calls; people on the street began asking cops on the beat what that smell was.
Although fire officials suspected the smell was from the Hanscom plane crash around 9:40 p.m., Boston firefighters began roaming their neighborhoods looking for possible local fire sources. As of 11:50, they hadn't found any.
Mike the Mad Biologist reported:
Definitely strong burning smell in Back Bay, even indoors (Exeter/Newbury).
Jessica Starbard reported that around 11:40 p.m., she didn't notice anything in downtown Boston, but that by 12:10, she was getting the smell of burning plastic.
Way closer to the fire, in Lexington, Suzanne Shavelson reported:
Intense smell like burning plastic.