Chelsea Police and Fire, along with the State Fire Marshal, are investigating an intentional flooding of the Broadway Glen high-rise apartment building early last Saturday morning using a fire protection standpipe, and the owners of the building could find themselves in a lot more trouble after the situation allegedly uncovered some questionable living conditions.
Fire officials said there was about $500,000 in damages and that they, and police, have secured video footage that clearly shows a male party open a fire system water valve on the sixth floor and then run away. Fire officials estimated that the standpipe valve was open for about 15 minutes before crews from Engine 2 were able to locate it and turn it off.
“We send an additional engine (three engines, two ladders and a Deputy Chief) to all alarm activations and it was a good thing we do because it was a very chaotic scene,” said Deputy Chief John Quatieri. “When we arrived, water was pouring from both elevator shafts. The fire alarm panel indicated water flowing on floors five and six, so the crews from Engine 3 and Ladder 2 started their way up the south stairwell to investigate. Both crews had difficulty getting to floors five and six due to the large number of occupants who were self evacuating. We thought for sure there was a fire on the either floor five or six. As additional companies arrived they were immediately staged in the lobby which was quickly filling with water. Ladder 2 reported they had located an open ‘standpipe connection’ on floor six and was attempting to shut it down. Water flowed for approximately 10 to 15 minutes from the time it was opened until Ladder 2 shut the valve causing substantial damage to the floors below.”
Broadway Glen at 855 Broadway is an 11-story tower with 120 units, so a standpipe for fire suppression is required. The ‘standpipe connection’ is used by the Fire Department in high-rise structures. It is not feasible to stretch hose lines form a pumper to the 10th or 11th floor, so firefighters carry several hundred feet of hose up the stairwells and connect to the Fire Department standpipe connection, which is usually located on each floor in the stairwells.
As firefighters and police began to deal with the flooding, they found water in light fixtures and electrical panels, which was a serious hazard. They evacuated everyone from floor six down, about 150 people, and they took shelter in MBTA buses for several hours. Those on floors seven to 11 sheltered in place.
Fire crews worked the scene for about three hours before residents were allowed inside their apartments.
Two people were injured when they slipped and fell on wet floors, injuring their heads, while trying to evacuate. One was treated on scene and the other was taken to the Whidden. A third man suffered a cardiac issue and is in the cardiac unit at Beth Israel Hospital.
Captain Richard Perisie from the Fire Department’s Fire investigation Unit followed up early this week with the Chelsea Police, Massachusetts State Police and the Massachusetts Fire Marshal’s Office and obtained video footage
They are in the process of identifying that individual.
Beyond that, the flood seemed to uncover a host of living conditions that might be against the City’s Building Codes.
Shortly after the residents returned to their homes, advocates and volunteers began to report terrible living conditions in the units that likely existed long before the flooding.
The Chelsea Collaborative held a tenant meeting with City officials at their Broadway headquarters on Monday afternoon and learned of several stories about mice and unsanitary living conditions that allegedly existed.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino attended that meeting and said this week the City will look at any such problems.
“The City plans to document all existing Code violations and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that those violations are remedied in an expeditious manner,” he said.
Broadway Glen is an affordable housing complex and it sold in early 2014 to a New York group for $9.5 million.
Sam Horowitz of Capital Realty Group in Spring Valley, NY told the Record at the time that his company was excited to be doing business in Chelsea.
They have more than 5,000 units in 13 states and specialize in affordable housing buildings.