Life lost in Grove Street blaze

Sep 28, 2017 by

Published in the September 29, 2017 edition

MELROSE — A 101-year-old woman lost her life in a single alarm fire on Grove Street Wednesday afternoon.

The woman’s body was found by firefighters as they conducted a search in the kitchen of a first floor apartment at the multi-family dwelling at 85 Grove St. That is believed to be the area where the fire began. Officials did not release the victim’s name this morning.

She was the only one in the house at the time of the fire.

The Fire Department received several calls around 3:50 p.m. reporting a fire in the home along the heavily traveled Grove Street near the Walnut Street intersection.

Off-duty firefighters who happened by around that time quickly sprang into action. They both realized the smoke and heat were too intense to enter, so one of them — a Melrose resident who works in Everett — banged on doors trying to alert those inside that the 2 1/2 wood frame house was on fire. The other, a Somerville firefighter, grabbed a garden hose and ran it through a window at the back of the first floor of the home, putting flames into the apartment’s kitchen and significantly slowing the advancement of the fire to other rooms.

A Fire Department spokesman lauded their efforts.

The crew on Engine 3 was the first to arrive at the scene, and firefighters under the command of Lt. Derry Madden ran a line through a rear door into the first floor unit’s kitchen. The department’s rescue crew worked in tandem with the Engine 3 crew, attacking the fire and conducting a search. Engine 2 arrived and set up a supply line from a hydrant to Engine 3 so it would have a steady supply of water.

“This entire group executed an aggressive fire fight perfectly and very professionally,” said Capt. Ed Collins. “Unfortunately, there was a life lost here which we must always keep in mind. But the damage to the structure could have been much, much worse if it weren’t for the department’s quick response, the time of day playing a role in the early detection of the flames and smoke, and the very aggressive nature used to fight the fire.”

The crew of Engine 2 conducted a search and put water down on the second floor to prevent an fire spread, and a Malden engine crew did the same on the third floor.

Damage was estimated at $150,000. The apartment where investigators believe the fire started received the brunt of the damage, especially to the electrical system there.

Fire Chief Chris Leary ordered all utilities to cut service to the house and it could be several months before other tenants are allowed back in.

The all clear was given around 6 p.m. Capt. John White, Police Sgt. Paul McNamara and representatives from the state Fire Marshal’s office investigated and cleared the scene around 8:30 p.m. The cause of the fire is undetermined at this time.

A fire watch stood by until about 12:30 a.m. Thursday.

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