‘Incredibly heartbreaking’: 1 dead, several hurt after 6-alarm blaze scorches homes in East Boston

One person was killed, a child was among several people hospitalized, and dozens were displaced after a six-alarm blaze broke out at a multi-family home and quickly spread to other buildings in East Boston on Tuesday morning, officials said.

Crews responding to a report of a fire at a large residential building on Meridian Street around 5 a.m. were greeted by heavy flames and learned the blaze had traveled to two nearby structures, according to Boston Fire Chief Paul Burke.

Burke said firefighters immediately rescued at least five trapped residents over aerial ladders as the flames raged. A total of five adults and a child were rushed to the hospital with unknown injuries. The name of the person who died hasn’t been released.

“Firefighters had to be rotated in and out because they were overheated and working so hard,” Burke told reporters. “It was a tough fire. They couldn’t get a hold of it. Not for not trying, it’s just the quarters...The heat and smoke were so bad.”

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu called the tragic death of a resident “incredibly heartbreaking.”

“We will do whatever we can to make sure we are supporting all of those who were displaced and those who will need some time recovering in the hospital,” Wu said. “This is a very, very difficult situation.”

Wu also said the Boston Fire Department’s swift response prevented additional loss of life.

“I want to thank all of our first responders,” Wu said. “Our firefighters themselves were at great risk. We saw several residents rescued over ladders from the top floor windows.”

The close proximity of the houses caused the fire to spread to a home next door and a building in the rear, according to Burke. Some people living inside the homes said they were woken up around 5 a.m. to people screaming.

I started banging on peoples doors and tried to get everyone awake,” said Diego Rabelo, a displaced resident.

“There were people running around trying to get out of the house,” Fabricio Paes, who was displaced by the fire, said.

“East Boston is always difficult. Lot of people in it. It was going pretty good when they [firefighters] got here,” Burke said. “These guys were fast. They worked really hard getting people out before help arrived. This is an island basically and everyone is coming through the tunnels, Chelsea here. It’s tough to get people here.”

Video from the scene showed several fire trucks and crews on ladders working to knock down the blaze. Firefighters were also spotted fighting the flames from adjacent houses.

Burke estimated that about 30 or more residents were displaced as a result of $5 million in damages sustained by the buildings. The Red Cross and Salvation Army are assisting them.

Fire investigators are expected to remain at the scene for “a long time” as they work to determine the cause of the fire, according to Burke.

Burke noted that one firefighter suffered a minor knee injury while battling the blaze. He is expected to be OK.

“I was here early on. This thing was going pretty good. I can’t believe nobody else got hurt,” Burke said.

The public is urged to avoid the area until further notice due to the ongoing emergency response.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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