Investigators say it will take some time to find the cause of the Cambridge fire that left more than 60 people out of their homes.
Firefighters were still battling hotspots Sunday morning after the blaze tore through the densely-populated neighborhood in Kendall Square at about 2 p.m. Heavy flames engulfed multi-family buildings, including a former church that had been converted to condos, and several automobiles on Berkshire Street. Crews have been forced to demolish two homes that are considered too dangerous to be left standing.
"In terms of the rest of the buildings we'll evaluate a little further tomorrow, but we're not concerned about them through the overnight," said Deputy Chief Tom Cahill of the Cambridge Fire Department.
Many came by the destruction zone to see the damage for themselves a day after flames sparked.
"It's heartbreaking," said Mike Wilson who has family now forced to live in a nearby hotel. "I'm from Cambridge. It's kind of heartbreaking and devastating."
Investigators say finding the cause of the fire is a slow process of elimination.
"It's touch and go," said Cahill. "We have to eliminate quite a bit before we're able to narrow it down to that one cause."
Now this neighborhood is left to cleanup and rebuild.
"We'll work at it together," said Louis Armedia. "We'll bring everybody back again. Pretty strong people over here."
The Frisoli Youth Center was initially where those displaced by the fire were directed to go; however, the shelter has been affected by an ongoing power outage.
Eversource told necn that about 60 customers were still without power by 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
Fire crews were called in from surrounding cities and towns to help after the first calls came about 2 p.m. Saturday. It was contained about six hours later.
"They responded very quickly to get the situation under control as fast as possible, and all the cities and towns," said Cambridge Mayor Denise Simmons. "I'm just very grateful for the amount of help and support that we've gotten from all the neighboring cities and towns around Cambridge to make sure that we keep the community safe."
Simmons said approximately six first responders sustained minor injuries and were taken to an area hospital, where they are doing well.
Cambridge police spokesman Jeremy Warnick said seven buildings caught fire. Some witnesses said the fire started at a residential building undergoing renovations.
"In minutes the whole house caught on fire. The wind started blowing the flames across the street and houses across the street caught on fire," Dana Fuller said. "Within three minutes there were four or five houses and cars on fire. Just like that. My family has lived here for almost 100 years."
In all, 15 buildings were damaged due to the fire. Authorities said one building collapsed and there was some concern Sunday that others could collapse as well.
Cambridge Deputy Fire Chief Tom Cahill said Sunday morning that the investigation into exactly what started the blaze was underway.
"The investigation is a combined investigation between state police, Cambridge Police, and Cambridge Fire Department Investigators. We're going to start that investigation within the next couple of hours and it's going to take quite a while to put that puzzle together," Cahill said.
It was still unclear by Sunday when those who were staying at the shelters would be able to return to their homes.
All displaced families and individuals were being told to register with the American Red Cross by calling 800-564-1234, or by stopping by one of the following drop-in sessions:
- Sunday, December 4: Until 6 p.m. at the Frisoli Youth Center, 61 Willow Street
- Monday, December 5: 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m., Cambridge City Hall, 2nd Floor, 765 Massachusetts Avenue
- Tuesday, December 6: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Cambridge City Hall, 2nd Floor, 765 Massachusetts Avenue
Per Mayor Simmons, anyone that would like to help displaced residents, donations can be made to the Mayors Fire Relief Fund at Cambridge City Hall: Mayors Fire Relief Fund, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge MA 02139.
There will also be a Fire Recovery Resource Center held on Monday from 8:30 a.m. - 8 p.m. and Tuesday December 6 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. where impacted residents will be able to meet with various organizations committed to helping them recover following this tragedy.
The City of Cambridge is also reminding residents that the following streets will remain closed to pedestrians and vehicles:
- Berkshire Street - from York Street to Plymouth - indefinite closure
- Plymouth Street - Cardinal Medeiros Ave to Berkshire Street - indefine closure
- Vandine Street - Cardinal Medeiros to Berkshire Street
- York Street - Willow Street to Berkshire Street