Video: 11 people hurt in three-alarm blaze in Framingham apartment building

Dan McDonald and Michael Sereda

Eight firefighters were hurt and dozens of people left homeless in a three-alarm fire yesterday that tore through a Temple Street high rise.

Fire broke out around noon at the six-story, 72-unit building at Jefferson Village, bringing firefighting crews from Framingham, Ashland and Natick.

With a ladder truck, firefighters rescued two people on balconies who had been driven from their apartments by thick, heavy smoke, said police Lt. Paul Shastany, serving as spokesman for the Fire Department.

Smoke was first spotted near the roof of Edgewater 1, a brick building at 14 Temple St., across from Super Stop & Shop. According to a 911 call from the building's maintenance staff, the fire may have have started on the second floor, Shastany said.

A preliminary investigation indicated the fire might have been sparked by maintenance crews working on plumbing, he said. Officials from the state fire marshal's office were on hand last night and were scheduled to return this morning to continue their investigation to find an exact cause.

Framingham put into action its entire complement of five engines, a ladder truck, an aerial platform truck, and rescue truck along with a ladder truck from Ashland.

The eight firefighters who were hurt suffered smoke inhalation, heat exhaustion and chest pains, Shastany said.

Assistant Fire Chief William Norton said last night four of those firefighters were treated at area hospitals and released, with two others expected to be held overnight. Conditions of the other two were not available.

Three tenants, including two elderly residents, suffering from smoke inhalation, were hospitalized, Shastany said. Their names were not available.

Speaking for Fire Chief Ollie Gadson, Shastany explained that fires in high-rise buildings are especially difficult to fight. Superheated air and smoke get trapped in the upper floors, and firefighters struggle in poor light, dragging heavy hoses through the building, he said.

Firefighters yesterday ran out of oxygen in their air tanks and had to leave the building to get them refilled, he said.

``Firefighters who are bodybuilders were felled by heat exhaustion,'' he said.

Norton said firefighters had the blaze under control around 3:30 p.m. and extinguished around 5 p.m.

The building, built before current fire codes, did not have a sprinkler system, he said.

The heaviest damage was on the fourth, fifth and sixth floors, Norton said.

Two firefighters were to spend the night walking through the building to make sure the fire did not rekindle, Norton said.

Tenants of the building found temporary shelter in a nearby fitness center.

Jefferson Properties, the complex's owner, was helping tenants find places to stay last night, Norton said. Officials with the American Red Cross took the names of people who needed shelter.

During the height of the blaze, two ladder trucks battled the fire from one side of the building. Firefighters atop the ladders poured water into the upper floors as gray and black smoke billowed. The smoke could be seen from nearby Rte 9.

On the other side of the building, amid wooded terrain, firefighters atop a third ladder truck also fought the blaze on the three upper floors.

The Massachusetts Department of Fire Services also sent an incident rehabilitation unit, a truck where firefighters can rest and drink fluids. Workers with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency were also on hand.

MetroWest Daily News