A discarded cigarette caused the massive fire that raged through two houses and damaged four more in Revere, Massachusetts, Thursday, sending smoke into the air that could be seen for miles.
The state fire marshal released the cause of the fire Friday afternoon, placing the estimated cost of the damage at more than $2 million.
A six-unit building on Endicott was destroyed along with a neighboring home, State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey said in a statement with Revere Fire Chief Christopher Bright. Four more homes were damaged.
The officials said there was evidence that the place where the fire started, outside a home near Waterview Avenue at 2:05 p.m., was regularly used by residents as an outdoor smoking area.
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"Until you quit, be a responsible smoker. Put it out. All the way. Every time," Ostroskey said in a statement.
PHOTOS: Firefighters Battle Major Fire in Revere
No one was hurt in the fire, including the firefighters from Revere and surrounding communities who fought the blaze, but 16 people were displaced and some pets died. Bright said in a statement that "if this fire had happened in the middle of the night, the outcome might have been very different."
The five-alarm blazed burned in a tightly packed neighborhood on Endicott Avenue and adjacent Bellingham Avenue, near the world-famous Revere Beach. The city is setting up a fund to help the families impacted.
"It's just devastating," said Laura Ross, who grew up in and still lived in one of the badly damaged homes.
Dawn Marie Vessler said the winds blowing Thursday were just strong enough to keep the fire from her home.
"It probably came within a foot at one point, and we were just kind of sitting here praying for it," she said.
A woman has been hailed as a hero for running up to one of the burning buildings to alert people of the fire. The woman, who gave her name as Amanda, said she'd been out in the yard with her six-year-old son when they smelled fire, then saw it: "It looked like a pile of logs with a barbeque on top of it."
As neighbors called 911, she ran over to the building and knocked on the doors on the first floor.
"No one answered so I just pulled the fire alarm switch," Amanda said.
Bright praised Amanda for doing the right thing, and was grateful for her heroic actions.
Aerial footage showed flames rushing up the sides of at least two homes as firefighters on cranes doused them with water. The smoke could be seen for miles.
One building appeared to have gotten the brunt of the damage. It seemed to be a double-wide triple-decker apartment building, with two apartments on either side of each floor. Crews demolished that building Friday.
Firefighters from Cambridge, Lynn, Somerville, Medford and Boston helped put out the flames.