Suspect arrested after apartment explosion, fire
ROXBURY, Mass. -- A man was arrested Monday morning following an early morning explosion and six-alarm fire at an apartment building in Roxbury. According to a preliminary police investigation, the fire may have been the result of the man’s failed suicide attempt.
Nearly a dozen people were injured -- at least 15 people were rescued -- after the explosion and fire on Wardman Road. Upwards of 160 firefighters were called to the scene as flames shot from the building hours after it broke out.
Judith Lamb, one of the fire victims, dropped her 6-year-old grandson, Xavier, from a third-floor window as flames closed in on her, into the arms of an officer to save the boy.
"I thought we were going to die in that fire. It was so bad, it was so scary," said Lamb. "He was screaming, he was was screaming, he was screaming. He didn't understand what I was doing, he didn't want me to let him go, but I had to let him go."
The brave boy was thankful to the firefighter who caught him. He described the terrifying moments before he jumped from the building:
"I was holding onto the window, then I couldn't hold it, so I dropped off. Then I fell."
"My mouth was burning because smoke was by my mouth and my lungs got like they were hurting a lot."
Luckily, one firefighter was able to save him.
“She’s hanging on inside the window so she doesn’t fall out, and he was petrified as to if he was going to fall, so thankfully we got there in time to get underneath him and catch him,” said Lieutenant Glenn McGillivary, of the Boston Fire Department. “No [I don’t feel like a hero], it’s the job. We’re just trying to do the best we can.”
Lamb was then rescued by firefighters using a ladder.
At least 12 people were brought to the hospital, including two firefighters and one police officer. They were treated with minor injuries including smoke inhalation.
A man, who showed up at Boston Medical Center with burns, claimed he started the fire. He was arrested, according to police. The man was not identified.
“Individual looks like he might have disabled the gas on their stove or one of their gas items and maybe lit a fire as gas was escaping from the pipe,” said Supt. In Chief Dan Linskey of the Boston Police Department.
Elaine Driscoll, a spokeswoman for the Boston Police Department, said the man may have been trying to kill himself. Police said the investigation is ongoing.
"It's something he's going to have to live with for the rest of his life," said Beverly Berry, fire victim.
Now the only thing that matters to these victims are their families and friends, and how they made it out alive, all thanks to Boston firefighters.
"I just want them to know that I really appreciate what they've done, for my family, because I thought my daughter and husband we dead," said Lamb.
Residents who escaped said they heard a loud explosion around 1 a.m. Monday.
“A big boom,” one man said. “It just sounded like a booming sound and then that’s when I started hearing the fire department, the police department - came outside, next thing I know I saw big flames coming out.”
At least 30 to 40 apartments were said to be damaged or destroyed in the fire. Those displaced by the fire were brought to the Tobin Community center. Damage to the building was said to be about $3 million.
The suspect, a 28-year-old Medford man, is facing charges that include arson of a dwelling and multiple counts of attempted murder.
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