WHITMAN — Nearly 80 firefighters from Whitman and more than 15 South Shore communities battled a five-alarm blaze that destroyed a multi-family house at 316-18 Commercial St., Wednesday night.
No injuries were reported in the fire.
The building was a total loss, and including personal possessions, Whitman Fire Chief Timothy Grenno estimated that the damage could add up to nearly $1 million.
All of the nearly a dozen residents of the apartment building were displaced as a result of the fire. The American Red Cross responded to the scene to assist residents in finding shelter for the night.
A preliminary investigation points to the fire starting in a second floor apartment, but the exact cause of the fire is still under investigation by Whitman Fire and investigators from the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services (DFS). They were expected continue their investigation later Thursday morning, but at this time officials said it does not appear to be suspicious. Grenno said that he did not know when the last fire inspection was done at the building, but that it had previously been up to code, according to a statement. He stated that he did not know when the last fire inspection was done at the building.
“This fire spread extremely fast and I want to commend our firefighters and those from our surrounding communities who responded to help put this fire out as quickly as they did,” Chief Grenno said.
Residents told reporters on the scene that the power went out and they heard a popping sound before the flames broke out.
Whitman Fire/Rescue received a 911 call reporting a fire at an apartment building at about 7:45 p.m. Upon arrival crews found that heavy flames were coming from a second-story window. The fire was spreading to the third floor and simultaneously burning the wooden deck outside of the window.
Deputy Fire Chief Joe Feeney immediately struck a second alarm. Because of the size of the building and its wood-frame structure, the fire quickly spread through the house and Grenno called for additional mutual aid from other towns, striking a fifth alarm at approximately 9:25 p.m. Firefighters from Hanson, Abington, East Bridgewater, West Bridgewater, Bridgewater, Rockland, Brockton, Norwell, Hanover, Halifax, Hingham, Holbrook, Randolph, Marshfield, Avon and Pembroke responded to mutual aid calls. The Whitman Police Department, Whitman Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), DFS Rehabilitation Unit and Boston Sparks Association A-10 also responded to the scene.