Fenway apartment building erupts in flames; nine injured

Firefighters at fire on Hemenway Street in the Fenway.

Boston firefighters responded around 3:15 p.m. to 104 Hemenway St., near Westland Avenue, for what turned into a seven-alarm fire.

BFD reports eight residents and one firefighter were injured; all the injuries appeared to be non-life threatening.

Fire Commissioner Joe Finn arrived around 3:45 p.m. and assumed command.

Around 4 p.m., Finn struck a seventh alarm and ordered all firefighters out of the building as flames began coming out of the roof. Video.

The five-story building houses mainly Northeastern and Berklee students; officials there are working to find new housing for their students.

Fire crews from surrounding communities came into Boston to cover fire stations left empty by BFD crews who responded to the fire.



Free tagging: 



7 alarms

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Any day is a terrible day to lose your home to a fire...


it wasn't student housing

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it wasn't student housing, it was neighborhood housing, owned by a slumlord, taken over by students renters because there isn't enough institutional housing

I wonder if there was a functional sprinkler system in the building...

If these institutions were willing to build their own housing for their own damn students on their own damn land then there would've been functional sprinkler systems that would've protected them


Not necessarilly

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The building code requiring sprinklers in 3 or more units is relatively new. This building appears to be close to 100 years old.


The building was so old and

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The building was so old and never renovated it never had a sprinkler system in the first place. So old it was a five story walk up without an elevator. That's why only students lived there. No one else would fork over hefty rent to live in a wicked outdated building.


No one?

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Because everyone has $3600 to drop on a 500sqft box in a typical elevator-equipped vertical yuppie storage facility?

500 square feet is more than enough space

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You never had to live in a mobile home or apartment anywhere, I take it. That's plenty of space for a single person - plenty enough to have real furniture, a full kitchen, separate bed, decent tub/shower combo, etc.

When you troll from Dallas, that sounds cramped, maybe. You need to get out more.



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My wife and I had a 400 square foot 1 bedroom apartment for six years. We ate out for dinner maybe once a week. We had a couch and a TV and a kitchen table and a hall closet and a bathroom closet and a bathtub.

Yeah, it was tight quarters. Yeah, we didn't have bicycles or surfboards or model train sets or other stuff that takes up much space.


You know what?

I grew up in an entire neighborhood of buildings that were 500 sq ft to 1000 sq ft and housed as many as six people each!

Welcome to a trailer park! My own family of four lived in about 700 square feet - that's cramped, that's only 175 square feet per person.

My husband's family had the first floor apartment in a two-family house in New England. About 750 square feet for FIVE PEOPLE. They previously had four people in 650 square feet in Dorchester.

People around the world inhabit very small spaces with their entire extended families. Most two bedroom 800 square foot apartments were designed for families of 4 or more! We had neighbors in Arlington who raised seven kids in an 800 square foot 2br plus converted porch.

I bought a condo in Portland that my brother and I rent to our aunt. It is a very well laid out 550 square feet with a full kitchen and bath and PERFECT for a single person. They hold regular potlucks, so they can all apparently cook.

Your perception of space is 1) bizarrely warped and 2) privileged and 3) very red state.

Not everyone has parents and trust funds subsidizing their rent.

I don't see myself as what you describe me as, SwirlyGrrl.

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Just because people inhibit very small spaces doesn't mean that it's a good thing.

500 square feet, with a full kitchen and bath must be extremely cramped. I own my condo, which is just a tad under a thousand square feet, and perfect for me. I have found that a somewhat larger place is way easier to keep relatively clean than a smaller place, and easier to store stuff, as well. My condo is not that large. I'm single, and I like it as it is, and I don't feel cramped, at all.

I'll also add, SwirlyGrrl, that you're talking like I've never worked a day in my life, and if you think it, you're dead-assed wrong here. I worked for roughly 20 years before I was outsourced from my job, which happened not only to me, but the entire department that I worked in. You've got a nasty attitude that I find rather disgusting, because you think you're better than me and lots of other people on here, but you know what? You're not.

Back when I was in college

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at BU, you could get, for the same price:
-A double dorm room, with a communal bathroom shared by 20, that enforced the University's drug and alcohol policy, required an expensive meal plan, and closed for Thanksgiving, Winter Break, Spring Break, for 9 months of the year
-A single bedroom, in a crappy Allston apartment, with a living room, kitchen, no drug/alcohol enforcement, that was yours for 24/7/365 for one full year.

This is why students move off campus even when their university provides housing. Especially international students, whose visas require they remain in the US 50 weeks a year, being displaced for holidays and moving during the summer is a burden.


It's a drag to say this, but

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a good many students also engage in behaviors that put themselves, their neighbors and their roommates at risk. A lot of students overcrowd houses and apartments by having too many of their friends living with them, and engage in smoking and drinking, the latter of which causes many students to take risks that they wouldn't ordinarily take if they didn't drink excessively.

Fortunately, nobody died in that Hemenway Street fire, but it sure had the potential for people getting killed. Kudos to the firefighters. I'm glad they survived.

Binland Lee's death was a good example of that. The house fire in Allston five years ago that killed Binland Lee, and resulted in serious injury to some of her housemates was caused by improper disposal of smoking material. Many, if not most of those houses and apartment buildings that are frequently occupied by students, then and now, were more than likely built at or before the turn of the 20th century, and have not been updated in any way, especially the wiring and all. The landlady of the house in Allston had blood on her hands, due to her not putting in a second egress up in the attic like she was supposed to, but Binland Lee's housemate(s) who'd been smoking in that house (where they shouldn't have been smoking), and failed to properly dispose of their smoking materials were also partly responsible for her tragic, untimely death.

I don't see it that way, adam.

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The cause of the fire is unknown, but I stand by my opinion that a lot of these young college students do engage in stuff that puts neighbors, roommates, and themselves at risk.

So why the hell bring it up?

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You could just as easily discuss people who don't pick up after their dogs, or who run stop signs. Yes, people do those things, but it has nothing to do with this particular fire.

You really need to learn to pick your battles.

We can all see your problem

You need to find a better way of boosting your self esteem if picking on theoretical straw young people is all you got, when most actual young people are working to make their way in the world however they can.

Not everyone has parents who can afford to put them up in dorms and friends they can crash with or nearby homes they can crash in when those dorms are shut and they still have to work. Both Adam and I can fill you in on what dorms cost and how they cost a lot more if you can't go home over even short holidays or vacations.

PS: most smoking-related fires due to careless disposal of smoking materials involve people far more your age than young people: https://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/statistics/v18i6.pdf

I disagree with you, SwirlyGrrl.

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First of all, how do you know that careless disposal of smoking materials don't generally involve younger people? That's not true. Also, the Boston Fire department said that the house fire in Allston that killed Binland Lee was caused by improper disposal of smoking materials.

Secondly, I went to BU, lived in a dorm for one year, and then a University owned apartment with older students for another 2 years, and then an independent apartment for my last year there. There were no problems with people acting irresponsibly, carelessly disposing of smoking materials. How much dorms cost probably depends on the dormitory the young people you defend are living in. I lived in a dorm that was relatively cheap. I was older when I went to college, and glad of it.

Many of today's younger people are prone to taking more risks, plus if a kid can't afford the trip across country to go home for the holidays, then how can a family afford to send their kid to school?

You, SwirlyGrrl, need to find better ways to boost YOUR esteem than getting nasty with people who openly differ with your ultra-socially/politically correct orthodox postings.

The idea that people my age and older are more careless about disposing of their smoking materials is pure BS. I don't buy it. I was a student back in the 1970's, and there always was a sense of entitlement among many students, but it's much worse nowadays.

Swirly is right on the facts.

Apparently young smokers are less likely to cause a fire than older smokers.

The risk of dying in a home structure fire caused by smoking materials rises with age until age 85, then declines slightly. Nearly half (46%) of fatal home smoking-material-fire victims were age 65 or older, compared to their 13% share of the population. Older adults (age 65 and over) are less likely to smoke than younger adults. Therefore, their high rates of smoking-material fire deaths per million people are even more noteworthy.


Although the limit of this study seems to be that the numbers are drawn only from fires that caused a fatality, not residential fires in general. So to clarify I am adding this.

On average, seven people died in U.S. home fires per day.
Cooking equipment was the leading cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries and the second leading cause of home fire deaths.
Smoking was the leading cause of civilian home fire deaths. Heating equipment was the second most common cause of home fires and fire injuries and the third leading cause of fire deaths.


If you think it through it makes sense, since the smoker tends to also be asleep when the fire starts, unlike the person cooking. As far as the appropriateness of speculating on the cause of the fire, I agree with Adam. Why blame the victim?

That's a little bit bias about age when you say that older

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smokers are more likely to cause fires, etc. They are plenty of people in their 50's, 60's, and even 70's and 80's who are more alert than younger people, don't indulge in excessive amounts of alcohol, which can make people sleepy enough to fall asleep while smoking.

A guy my age that I grew up going to school with burned his house down, obviously in a state of drunkenness, in his 30's (that's still young), and didn't even remember whether or not the fire was caused by a cigarette or a space heater.

So, anybody who thinks that young people can't cause smoking-related fires by falling asleep while smoking ought to think again.

Anybody, regardless of aga, who smokes in an old wooden house where the wiring, etc., has not been updated, and fails to dispose his/her smoking materials properly, is totally irresponsible.

I'll also add, that when my brother went to the Univ. of Chicago before transferring to UMass/Amherst ( a number of years ago), he had two roommates in University housing. One of the roommates put a pie in the oven, fell asleep, and almost started a fire. My brother and his other roommate left a note for him, which said:

Thanks for causing this problem.

Number one: It's not your pie.

number two, you could've started a fire.

number three, you could get all of kicked out of this building.

Well, sure enough, my brother and both of his roommates at the time did get kicked out of the University housing. It wasn't fun. They found other places to live, but it wasn't pleasant. What this kind of a thing proves is that all it takes is one person to screw other people over.

Facts matter.

You sound like a right wing nut job when you declare FACTS to be "omg an ism!" and "that can't be because it means I'm not special and better!".

And then wander off into a frayed and irrelevant anecdote that proves nothing.

Get over yourself.




By adamg on Tue, 10/30/2018 - 1:18pm

Enough in this discussion, please.

This is, or was, a place to discuss a fire in an apartment building that burned dozens of people out of a home and it's now veered far, far away from that.

So please, just stop posting in this thread.

And for folks who want to goad her, please resist that temptation.

Thank you.

Some months ago, I read a rather horrific story about

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two teenaged kids who were cooking in the kitchen, when their parents were out, which was on the second story of the house. The parents had taken the keys with them instead of leaving the keys with their kids. A fire started, for some reason, the kids weren't able to open the windows or doors to get out, and they both died in the fire, of smoke inhalation. Had their parents left them with the keys, they might've survived.

Seven people per day dying in home fires, regardless of their

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causes, is an awful lot, imho. Nobody, including myself, is disputing the fact that cooking equipment is a leading cause of home structure fires, home fire injuries, and home fire deaths, or that smoking is the leading cause of civilian home fire deaths, and heating equipment comes in second, there.

Sometimes, however, there are other things that cause home fires. Years ago, some neighbors who lived a few houses down the street from us had their house gutted and destroyed by a fire, which was caused by aerosol spray cans. There were several pop pop pops, and the fire started. The only reason that whole family wasn't killed in the fire is that their oldest kid (the daughter) who was home from college on spring break and was up late working on her thesis, smelled smoke, quickly alerted the rest of the family, and got them all out of there, just in the nick of time. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, and they all survived, which was lucky.

By the time the fire department arrived at the scene, the fire was really raging out of control, and flames were shooting at least 100 feet into the air. The family's house was totally gutted--and totally destroyed. They managed to rebuild, but it took them quite awhile, and was expensive.

Another family in our town (although not on our street), had a house fire that resulted when their Christmas tree caught fire. Nobody knew what caused this fire, but fortunately, their house was saved, and none of the family was hurt or killed.

Please consider therapy

or some storytelling forum. none of this is on topic. Are you just baiting us? Do you have a factual basis for disputing these statistics?

Ha ha ha!

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Why don't YOU consider therapy, cinnamangirl? You're not so normal yourself if you resort to insults.


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Enough in this discussion, please.

This is, or was, a place to discuss a fire in an apartment building that burned dozens of people out of a home and it's now veered far, far away from that.

So please, just stop posting in this thread.

And for folks who want to goad her, please resist that temptation.

Thank you.

Often enough, parents of BC, BU and even Northeastern Univ.

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students buy their college-age kids a condo so that they won't have to spend valuable studying time looking for a new apartment or whatever, if their rent gets too steep, plus if a kid wishes to sell his/her condo, they'll make some money off of it. If she/he wishes to stay in the area, s/he will still have a place to live, as well.

Condos in the Boston area, especially those closer to the Universities and colleges here, are often fantastically expensive, but there are many kids at the above-mentioned schools whose parents are able and willing to spend that kind of money for their kids.

... and when institutions try

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... and when institutions try to build (or partner with private partners to build), OMG TEH SHADOWZ!!!

Berklee College of Music at

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Berklee College of Music at 168 Mass Ave, circa 2009–2011-ish IMP/Article 80 Planning review. It eventually ended with an anemic 16 stories of faux-warehouse, industrial-esque, blah.

More Student Housing?

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If they built student housing on their own land? As I'm sure you've noticed there isn't exactly a surplus of empty space in the fenway or on the campuses of any of the universities therein. Also, every time NU tries to build additional housing (see the work they did at the YMCA) they have people like you and your friends taking them to court over the height and size of their buildings.

Also, and I'm sure you don't remember this, because I doubt you've been where you are long, up until about the mid 90s that neighborhood you're railing against students living in? Yeah, it was a total shit hole. It was gentrified and made nice because students moved in there looking for cheap housing.

So save it. You live in a student neighborhood. If you don't like that, consider moving elsewhere instead of trying to change a neighborhood that has been largely inhabited by students since the mid 80's.