16 units uninhabitable after Fall River apartment fire; 1 resident taken to hospital

SE Mass

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — A large number of residents of a Fall River apartment building were displaced after a fire broke out Tuesday night.

According to Fall River Fire Chief Jeffrey Bacon, crews responded to Borden Apartments at the corner of Borden and Fourth streets around 10 p.m. and arrived to find a third-floor unit fully engulfed.

“There were flames top to bottom, left to right,” Bacon said. “When my first attack crew got up there, he reported that there were flames coming out the door into the hallway.”

“I heard the fire alarm going off and I opened the door, and the hallway was black, full of smoke,” one resident recalled. “I’ve never been through anything like this. I’m only 19, this is my first apartment, so I was just freaking out.”

Firefighters were able to get the flames under control and keep them from spreading to other areas of the building, Bacon added. But even though the fire was extinguished quickly, he said there were a “bunch of apartments” considered uninhabitable due to smoke, heat and water damage.

Of the 35 units in the building, 27 sustained damage, according to the Red Cross of Massachusetts. It’s unclear at this time how many residents in total lived in the affected units.

Fire officials said one resident was taken to Rhode Island Hospital for smoke inhalation but is expected to be OK.

Some residents of unaffected units were allowed to return after the fire was put out.

Bacon said there was no sprinkler system in the building but because of the year it was built, this was not a violation. There was, however, a working alarm system, according to the chief.

The alarms went off again around 9 a.m. Wednesday, causing residents to evacuate for a second time. Bacon said this was due to the smoke detector system being damaged, not the fire flaring back up.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but officials believe it may have been an overloaded extension cord.

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