Investigators have determined the cause of a massive 10-alarm fire that broke out Dec. 3 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The fire, which affected 18 buildings and caused over 100 residents to be displaced, was the result of subcontractors' careless disposal of smoking materials, according to the Cambridge Fire Department.
The fire originated in and around recycling bins outside 35/37 Berkshire St., where the subcontractors had been working.
Wilfredo Villanueva, the owner of Daddy Construction, the general contractor for the project said he had roofing and framing crews on the site that day but doesn't know who could have been smoking on the job, which is not allowed.
"I am very disappointed that people (were) smoking - they don’t even think damage that one cigarette butt can cause," Villanueva said.
He said he had no smoking signs posted on the site.
"I did everything that was in my control, I follow rules, I do what I'm supposed to do, I post signs throughout the jobsite making sure nobody smokes and beyond that someone decides not to follow rules," said Villanueva.
Zeinat Ibrahim, who was one of the residents who lost her home, finally moved out of a hotel on Tuesday. She said after 7 weeks, she still can't process all that her family has lost.
"Yesterday I went to the apartment and realized I don’t have anything. I actually don’t have anything," Ibrahim said emotionally.
"I don't believe it," Cambridge Mayor Denise Simmons said Wednesday after learning the cause of the devastating fire. "It's disappointing, it is disappointing that callous or casual behavior is problematic."
"It is an active investigation, we will certainly follow up on it," the Mayor went on to say. "We will go after them as strongly as possible because, the devastation that has come from that has been huge, and we are still feeling the impact of that."
Amy Cronin runs Strategic Code Solutions, a local consulting company that advises businesses on meeting fire code and other regulations.
"I think it is real shame that it it would be smoking materials, it is such a well known fire hazard," Cronin said. "Everything says no smoking materials near combustibles, whatsoever, particularly on a construction site."
Cronin says in addition to the possibility of criminal charges, those impacted could consider civil recourse too.
"Possible criminal charges, they are looking into that, but as far as any other recourse, I think it is more civil litigation and I think that's the only recourse they have," she said.
Firefighters sustained minor injuries and were taken to a hospital, but no civilians were hurt in the massive blaze.