Fire crews labored for seven hours to squash a three-alarm blaze at two Crescent Avenue homes last Saturday, an effort that was hampered considerably by frozen hydrants and poor water pressure on Crescent Avenue.
Firefighters reported having to improvise considerably to maintain proper water pressure to fight the fire.
On Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, at 8 p.m., the Chelsea Fire Department responded to the report of a building fire at 375 Crescent Ave. Engine 3 and Ladder 2 were first to arrive on scene from the Mill Hill Station. Acting Captain Doherty observed heavy fire on floor 2 of 375 Crescent Ave. and ordered a second alarm assignment.
Deputy Chief Robert Cameron arrived on scene and reported the fire had extended to an additional building at 373 Crescent Ave. and ordered a third alarm assignment.
The fire quickly spread throughout both buildings as the crews from Ladder 2 and Tower 1 attempted to search the interior for occupants. Engine 3 had hooked up to a hydrant on Crescent Avenue, which was frozen and caused a delay in deploying the initial hose line to the interior of 375 Crescent Ave.
Without the protection of a hose line, crews were forced to back out of the building as the heat became intolerable.
Conditions quickly deteriorated, causing Deputy Chief Cameron to order all fire crews out of both buildings. As the crews exited the building at 373 Crescent Ave. the roof collapsed into the second floor.
The fire operation was further complicated when power lines burned away from both buildings and landed on the sidewalk where firefighters were setting up hose lines to attack the fire from the exterior. Crews had to use extreme caution until NStar cut the power about 45 minutes later.
Another problem was the poor water supply on Crescent Avenue.
Engine 1 hooked to the hydrant on Crescent Avenue at Carroll Street, but lost their pressure as other engines hooked into hydrants on the same water main. Engines from Lynn and Winthrop were called to set up a relay pump operation and fed Chelsea Engine 1 from a hydrant on Clinton Street.
Crews worked for seven hours to extinguish the fire.
A total of 13 occupants were displaced and relocated to the Wyndham Hotel by the Red Cross.
No occupants were injured.
Mutual Aid was called in from Everett, Revere, Malden, Winthrop, Somerville, Medford and Lynn to assist Chelsea firefighters control the fire. Boston Engine 5 and Medford Ladder 2 covered Central Station while Melrose Engine 3 covered the Mill Hill Station.
It was determined by the department Fire Investigation Unit that the fire started in a light fixture on the second floor of 375 Crescent Ave.
Both buildings sustained considerable damage with a combined estimated loss at $400,000.