No Injuries From B Street Duplex Blaze

Photo: An early morning house fire on B Street was quickly extinguished by Belmont Fire crews. (Credit Belmont Fire Department)

A house fire that broke out in a B Street duplex was put out without injuries to residents or firefighters early Thursday morning, Aug. 26.

Belmont Fire Department companies arriving at the scene at approximately 1:30 a.m. encountered a blaze in the kitchen of one of the condominiums and rapidly extinguished it confining damage to the room.

“Belmont firefighters confirmed that all residents had escaped by conducting a search of the entire duplex,” according to a press release from Belmont Fire Chief David DeStefano. “Firefighters also conducted smoke removal activities and monitored the occupancy to ensure the atmosphere was free of harmful products of combustion.”

Mutual aid came from the Cambridge, Arlington and Watertown fire departments.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

First fire responded by the department’s new pumper engine.

Belmont Fire Responds To Porch Fire On Berwick

Photo: Belmont Fire at Berwick Street blaze on Monday, Sept. 21

A fire on a first floor rear porch brought all of Belmont Fire’s apparatus to Berwick Street in the Harvard Lawn neighborhood on Monday afternoon, Sept. 21.

The fire was reported sometime after 1:30 p.m., according to Belmont Fire Captain David DeMarco who spoke at the scene. With the possibility that the blaze was inside the three-story building, the department dispatched its two engines, the ladder truck and rescue vehicle to the scene.

Upon arriving, the fire was located on the rear porch of the first-floor condo, said DeMarco. The blaze was extinguished in a matter of minutes. While the fire did not appear to have entered the triple decker, fire personnel were going through the 112 year old structure as a precaution against any hidden hot spots.

Belmont PD: Suspect Sought In July McLean Fire

Photo: Administration Building, McLean Hospital (WikiMedia Commons)

Belmont Police is seeking information on a suspect who allegedly started a fire at McLean Hospital on Wednesday, July 29.

In a press release dated Aug. 5, Belmont Asst. Police Chief Mark Hurley said Belmont 911 received an alarm at 3:03 p.m. for fire and/or smoke in the administration building at 115 Mill St. Belmont Fire quickly responded and extinguished the blaze.

An investigation utilizing the hospital’s security surveillance cameras revealed a man entering the front door of the building. Once inside, the suspect begins spraying and pouring an unknown substance on the carpeted floor from a handheld container. He then ignited the substance and fled the area.

The suspect is described as a male wearing brown dress shoes, blue pants, a long-sleeve button-down shirt, a surgical mask and sunglasses.

If you have any information pertaining to this incident, please call the Belmont Police Detectives at 617-993-2550.  

The Belmont Police is not releasing video images connected to this investigation to the public at this time.

One Dead In Birch Hill Road Fire That Leaves House Heavily Damaged

Photo: A Belmont Fire official examines a house at 81 Birch Hill Road damaged by a fire on Friday, April 24.

A female resident died after being rescued by Belmont firefighters during an early morning blaze that heavily damaged a split ranch house at 81 Birch Hill Road on Friday, April 24.

The unidentified victim was discovered by firefighters in cardiac arrest in the 60-year-old structure located near Lantern Road and abutting Hinckley Way, according to Belmont Fire Chief David Frizzell.

The victim, described as not being the homeowner, was taken by Belmont ambulance to Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge where she was pronounced dead.

The fire is under investigation by the Belmont Fire and Police departments. As there was a death caused by the fire, the Massachusetts State Police, the State Fire Marshal, and the Middlesex District Attorney are part of the probe.

The fire was phoned in at approximately 4:09 a.m. by a motorist driving on Route 2 who reported it five minutes after first seeing smoke coming from the structure, said Frizzell.

Firefighters arrived to find heavy smoke coming from the attic windows, which resulted in a second alarm being called. Fire personnel discovered the fire on the first floor in the area of the kitchen which had raced up into the attic, said Frizzell.

It took about half an hour to put out the fire. Firefighters remained at the scene to search for any smoldering flames. A cat was found under a bed in the basement and handed over to Belmont Animal Control, said Frizzell.

Frizzell said the structure while heavily damaged “was by no means a total loss” with the most fire damage in the kitchen area and in the attic floorboards.

Belmont Engines 1 and 2, Ladder 1 and Rescue 1 fought the fire while Arlington and Cambridge’s Fire assisted at the scene. Waltham and Watertown provided covered at Belmont’s firehouses.

Belmont Fire Praised for Action At Waltham ‘Epic’ Fire

Photo: At the Waltham fire; Lt Gerry Benoit (E1), Asst Chief Wayne Haley (C2), and FF Brian O’Neill (E1 Hydrant). (Photo Credit – Lt Rob Wollner)

Belmont Fire Chief David Frizzell described the inferno his department help fight in Waltham last month was simply “epic.”

“You don’t see many of those during your career,” Frizzell said describing the 10-alarm fire on July 23  that ripped through a five building, a 260-unit luxury apartment complex under construction on Cooper Street. 

But in the past nine months, Belmont firefighters have now fought a pair of 10-alarm fires, the other occurring in December when a massive fire engulfed eight buildings in East Cambridge, destroying a city block.

“We joke about ‘over the river and through the woods’ because this fire was on the other side of the Charles River. We laid every stitch of hose we had on the truck, and we went over a bridge and through the woods to get to the back door,” said Frizzell.

An “alarm,” as in a “one alarm fire,” is different in each municipality said Frizzell; in Belmont, it would be two engines, a ladder truck, rescue team and the shift commander that make up a single alarm. In larger communities, it’s four to five engines, upwards to a pair of ladder trucks and fire rescue.

Belmont’s fast response and time spent at the fire was recognized this week by Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy in a proclamation, noting Belmont Fire’s “quick response and quality decision making” was critical in “preventing the fire from spreading, and causing further damage and possible injuries or fatalities.” 

The Belmont personnel who responded included:

  • Asst. Chief Wayne Haley
  • Lt. Gerard Benoit 
  • FF Chris Drinan
  • FF Brian O’Neill
  • Chief David Frizzell
  • Lt. Michael Madruga
  • FF Ace Elefteriadis
  • FF Ryan Keene

On Thursday, Aug. 10, the fire was determined to be arson and a $100,000 reward is being offered by the property owner and contractor for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible.

Belmont Dispatcher’s Heroic Act on Tragic Day In Watertown

Photo: The scene of the fire. (Courtesy Watertown News)

Dave Jones should have been the good news story on a tragic St. Patrick’s Day.

The long-serving Belmont Police dispatcher was off-duty as he and his wife were heading to Donohue’s in Watertown to listen to Irish music on Friday morning, March 14. As the couple of two young boys were on Bigelow Avenue, Jones spotted a house on Merrifield Avenue with heavy smoke and fire coming from the building’s second floor.

“We were just traveling through. Just being in the right place at the right time,” Jones told the Belmontonian on Friday night as he began his shift at Belmont Police Headquarters.

Pulling over to the side of the road, Jones – whose father was a firefighter – jumped out and followed a Watertown Police officer who had just arrived into the burning structure.

Inside the house, Jones found an elderly resident who he brought out of the structure.

In his two-plus decades in public safety, “that’s the closest I have ever been to being a firefighter,” said Jones, who is a familiar figure at Belmont High football games as one of the members of the chain crew.

But should have been a story of selfless heroism by Jones and the Watertown police officer instead became on of the tragic death of Watertown firefighter Joseph Toscano who died of a heart attack battling the two-alarm blaze.

“Rather than me, what everyone has to remember, an old [man] lost a house and the loss of a firefighter,” said Jones, who last week celebrated his 21st year as a dispatcher, the same length of service as Toscano, a father of five from Randolph.

“It didn’t turn out to be the sort of story we all would want it to be,” said Jones.

20 Year Old ID’d as Victim Of Deadly Trapelo Road Fire

Photo: House destroyed by fire on Monday.

A 20-year-old man has been identified as the person killed in an early morning fire on Trapelo Road Monday, Jan. 23.

The Middlesex District Attorney’s office said Kevin Rossell was the person found by firefighters on the third floor of the two-family house at 606-608 Trapelo Rd. after a 4 a.m. three-alarm blaze destroyed the structure. 

No one else was hurt in the fire that halted traffic for a short time on the busy roadway running through town. 

Aftermath: One Store Gone, Others to Return after Belmont Street Blaze

Photo: The day after a fire destroyed Jimmy’s Food Mart.

The acrid smell from a fire that destroyed a Belmont Street convenient store Saturday night, April 18, remained in the air Sunday morning as an emergency services business was preparing to board up the burned out structure.

The interior of Jimmy’s Food Mart, at 297 Belmont St., was black and scorched, the food and fixtures burned, illuminated by the sunlight coming through the collapsed roof, the result of a three-alarm fire that began in the back of the store around 7:30 p.m. 

The blaze – which sent flames high into the air at the corner of Belmont and School streets – brought fire equipment in from Watertown, Cambridge and Waltham resulting in closing the major thoroughfare. 

While Jimmy’s is considered a loss, owners of the half dozen small businesses came by to enter their offices and stores to view how much damage they sustained. While the fire was substantial, the fast work by fire fighters and the structure of the building prevented an ever greater loss.

“It doesn’t appear that bad because of the fire wall and how quick the [fire departments] fought the fire,” said one business owner who did not want to be identified.

Many of the store fronts had front doors open to begin the process of airing out their businesses and discover how much water damage they had sustained. Owners were approached by cleaning and information recovery firms to help in the process.

When asked if his firm could be up and running after utilities are back, the owner said “Yes, that’s a possibility.” 

[Update] BREAKING: Fire Destroys Jimmy’s Food Mart, Damages Block of Stores

Photo: The fire at Jimmy’s Food Mart that occurred on Saturday, April 18. 

A three-alarm fire destroyed the convenient store Jimmy’s Food Mart and damaged a business block – including a new restaurant days away from opening – at the corner of Belmont and School streets on the Watertown line.

At this time, no one is thought to have been injured in the fire that occurred just after 7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 18. 

Belmont Fire Department Fire Chief David Frizzell told the Belmontonian the department received a call reporting a fire in the store.

“When we arrived, there was heavy fire in the back of the market. We don’t know if the store was open but there was someone there,” Frizzell said.

The inferno and smoke could be seen blocks away as flames reached high into the twilight sky as dozens of firefighters battled the conflagration so it would not spread to an abutting residential building at the corner of Lewis Road. Bystanders flocked to the scene as sirens and a helicopter brought attention to the scene. 

The blaze halted traffic on the normally busy thoroughfare as fire equipment from neighboring communities – including Watertown, Cambridge and Waltham – lent mutual aid, sending vehicles and the MBTA 73 bus onto Fairview Avenue. In addition, electricity was cut off in the blocks near the fire. 

“A Watertown engine arrived when we did so we had help from the start,” said Frizzell.

It took about half-an-hour to knock down most of the flames.

“Jimmy’s is heavily damaged, the roof has come in and there’s heavy fire damage. It’s a loss,” he said.

Parmjit Singh, owner of Jimmy’s, located at 297 Belmont St., was watched from across the street as his business burned.

“I put all my dreams in this town,” Singh told the Belmontonian. “A lot of people supported us. Now my business, everything is gone.”

Singh and his wife and partner, Surinder Kaur Dhaliwal, bought the shuttered site of the former Shore Drug in 2013 and opened it as a convenience store in January 2014. The store is managed by their son and business partner, Jimmy Singh.

Since opening, neighborhood reaction has been overwhelmingly favorable, with residents commending the owners for operating a clean and inviting business. Earlier this year, the Belmont Board of Selectmen rejected a beer and wine license to Singh and Dhaliwal. 

“I was here until 10 a.m. when I went home to sleep. Then my wife called to say the business was on fire,” Singh said. He does not know what the future holds for Jimmy’s.

“I want to open. I need to open. But I don’t know right now,” he said.

The fire caused heavy smoke and water damage to the other retail establishments on the block, said Frizzell. The businesses including Shine on Salon, Parmagian & Marinelli Law Office, Dr. Edward J. Burns Optometrist, Hemmingway Tailoring-Alterations, and a new eatery, “Tony G’s Barbecue,” in the former location of Gustazo Cuban Restaurant at 289 Belmont St. It was reported to open soon with new furniture and fixtures already installed.  

The fire is currently under investigation by the Belmont Fire and Belmont Police departments as the Massachusetts Fire Marshall was also at the scene, said Frizzell.  

“We’ll be here for the rest of the night. There’s pockets of fire we still need to get to. There’s quite a bit of work ahead of us,” he said. 

Fire Heavily Damages Two Family on Russell Terrace, Occupant Taken to Hospital

A two-alarm fire heavily damaged a 105-year-old two-family house at the end of Russell Terrace, sending an elderly occupant to the hospital this afternoon, Tuesday, Jan. 20.

Flames and smoke were billowing from the first and second floor windows of the wooden Colonial when the first fire crews arrived at the dead end street off of White Street near the Watertown line, Belmont Fire Chief David L. Frizzell told the Belmontonian at the scene.

The call came into Belmont dispatch at 12:06 p.m. and was quickly upgraded to a second alarm, said Frizzell.

A haze hung over a blocked off White Street as firefighters worked inside the building to douse flames that worked their way into the awes. The exterior was blackened by the blaze.

A Russell Terrace resident who did not want to be named said her husband saw smoke coming from the second floor window just after noon.

“He yelled at me to call 911. I’m surprised I didn’t have a heart attack running to the phone,” she said.

Frizzell and the resident told the Belmontonian an elderly occupant was seen exiting the building’s rear extension as the fire department apparatus arrived. The man was picked up by a fire fighter and placed into an ambulance and was taken to an unknown area hospital.

It took firefighters an hour to knock down the fire which destroyed the front right of the building and melted the aluminum siding of the neighboring house.

Frizzell said it was too early to determine what started the fire. He said while heavily damaged, about two-thirds of the structure did not suffer fire damage so it would not immediately be seen as a total loss.

Mutual aid came from Watertown, Cambridge, Arlington, Waltham and Weston.

The 2,228 sq.-ft. house, built in 1910, was assessed at $142,000 with the total property valued by the town at $430,000.