Heroic officers recount 'intense' Cambridge fire
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (WHDH) -- Police officers that arrived on the scene of a Columbia Road home engulfed in flames Thursday morning said the situation was so intense, no one could even speak.
“You’re coughing in there. You can taste the metal, the soot in your mouth. You can feel the burning in your lungs,” said Cambridge police officer, Nicholas Mochi, one of six officers that said they instinctively rushed the building to rescue residents trapped inside.
“We were actually updated by our dispatch that there were multiple people trapped inside and we could also see people hanging out of the third story windows screaming,” said another officer.
Officers said they crawled into thick black smoke in search of residents.
“It just so happened just by luck when I went in there I grabbed blindly. I felt something, I grabbed a woman, I grabbed her upper shoulder and just pulled,” said Mochi.
Officers Frank Lange and Steven Murphy found a resident sleeping on the second floor.
“We opened the door and he was actually sleeping on the floor. We yelled at him I think we scared him and he jumped up and we told him to get out. He kind of just stood there looking at us,” said Lange.
“He was very disoriented. He didn’t know what was going on. I think he was very shocked to see us,” added Murphy.
The Cambridge fire chief says the flames appear to have started on the back porch before climbing into the third floor and attic.
“You could see three foot flames through the windows. The porch was just up in flames. And since three this morning, we've basically watched it jump from porch to porch to roof. And it just cleared the whole top floor,” said resident, Peter Moulthorp.
Police Commissioner Peter Haas applauded the officers’ actions and pointed out that the officers were wearing their cloth uniforms, not protective gear for combating fires.
“They really put themselves in harm's way,” he said. “They were really heroic and put aside their own safety to save the three people that were in that house.”
In all, three people were pulled from building and nine others were able to escape on their own. And lives weren't the only things saved. The building houses a community of artists, grateful to firefighters for bringing out their instruments, one by one.
“It's just incredibly kind and very, very thoughtful. And they don't have to do this. They put their lives in danger going back in there. You can see they're still putting water into the building,” said resident, Brendan Burns.
Two firefighters were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries and are now at home doing well. The fire appears to be accidental, but further investigation is underway.