Three-alarm fire injures four in Dorchester

Firefighter at Mather Street. Photo by BFD.Firefighter at Mather Street. Photo by BFD.

The Boston Fire Department reports a fire at 49 Mather St. late last night quickly went to three alarms and sent two residents and two firefighters to the hospital. One resident was rescued from a top floor of the multi-family building via a department aerial ladder.

The department says one of the injured residents suffered burns, the other smoke inhalation. Roughly 15-20 residents were displaced. One firefighter suffered facial burns, the other a groin injury.

Damage was estimated at $400,000; the cause remains under investigation.

Firefighters inside Mather Street. Photo by BFD.Firefighters inside Mather Street. Photo by BFD.

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    Comments

    Illegal rooming house

    According to neighbors this is -- allegedly -- an illegal rooming house with approximately 14 residents. The absentee landlords live in the suburbs. The residents appear to be recent immigrants.

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    mather st. fire

    By on

    I'm surprised to hear that people think that 49 Mather St. is an illegal rooming house. It's a three-story apartment building. I suppose that in theory the tenants are crowding extra people into the apartments, but that doesn't seem to be the case: with fourteen residents in the whole building, that's fewer than five people per floor.

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    Mather Street fire

    I heard this from friends who took in some of the residents during the fire. Also, the number of tenants isn't what makes a building an illegal rooming house -- it's how a place is rented out and how the floors are configured. I'd have to look it up but I think the law in Boston is something like no more than three unrelated persons living together (aimed at college students mostly).

    Full disclosure: I have personally had disagreements with the owners of this property in regards to the gardens on the tunnel cap next to the house. They live in the suburbs and do not want to be involved in the neighborhood at all. This property was purchased strictly for investment/rental purposes. If I were to say anymore about it I would probably need to hire a lawyer first (only sort of kidding).

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    I think the concern should generally be

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    how the people are using the space and what the arrangement with the landlord is, not how many unrelated people. (And yes, I'm aware of the kerfuffle a few years ago about this anti-student law).

    If a group of people have sought out housing together and are using the quarters like a family would (cooking all takes place in kitchen, everyone pitches in to keep the place sanitary, etc.), who the fuck cares what their legal relationships are?

    The "rooming house" concern is more of an issue when you have unacquainted people where each family or individual has rented a room from a landlord, and might all have physical access to the whole unit, but are actually living with each family and all their belongings crammed into one bedroom, often with things like portable electric stoves that pose hazards.

    (And no, I know nothing about this particular address other than where that street is, but I've certainly seen these types of setups when doing outreach work in the city with families.)

    a shame

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    This property was a neighborhood convenience store forever, then it was a little café serving Irish breakfasts, then finally rebuilt as housing. None of the businesses were able to make a go of it, unfortunately.

    It was only with the (relatively recent) revamp of the Shawmut T station that things got to be fixed up with the cleaned up and well lit tunnel cap with the gardens alongside, so I wish the owners had more concern for the neighborhood.

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    mather street fire

    By on

    Sure, it would be nice if everyone who lives or owns property in the neighborhood took an interest in keeping the tunnel cap looking good, but the reality is that only a small proportion do. Why single out one particular set of people, who don't even live in the neighborhood? If you want to criticize people, why not jump on folks who live here, walk on the T right-of-way every day, and never lift a finger to help?

    At least these particular property owners keep the building looking tidy, which is not always the case with property owners.

    Red Line tunnel cap at Shawmut

    I realize we are diverting away from the actual fire story now, but ... is it really up to abutting property owners to maintain a park and walkway on top of the Red Line tunnel here?

    The park and path above the Red Line tunnel between Davis and Alewife is a city park maintained by Somerville and Cambridge. The park and paths above the Orange Line tunnel between Back Bay and Forest Hills are part of the state park system. In neither place are abutters expected to take responsibility for the common space.

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    Most properties in the neighborhood are owner occupied

    Mostly single families, but a few two and fewer three families. So this building is slightly different. Judging by the mailboxes and other indicators there may be more than three units or three families living there.

    And many dedicated neighbors maintain the tunnel cap (not me, but I see the effort of their work). Sure it would be nice of the city or some other entity managed it all.

    But I don't think the complaint is about maintaining the MBTA space, rather the fact that the owner of this particular property is generally disinterested in the community other than outside investment value.

    In this neighborhood that matters and has an effect on the owners of surrounding properties. I hope it is not a rooming house, and that all who lived there are OK, and can recover from the loss.

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