A 10-alarm fire ripped through the Wellington-Harrington neighborhood in the vicinity of Berkshire, Plymouth, and York Streets yesterday — affecting some fifteen buildings and displacing over 100 of our neighbors from their homes. Among the displaced are more than 60 affordable housing tenants at the former St. Patrick's Church.
I was speaking at the Massachusetts Peace Action conference at Simmons College when my wife texted a photo from our street (seen here), showing a giant flame and an enormous plume of smoke at the other end of Donnelly Field. I quickly left the conference and made my way to the scene and spent the rest of the evening with other city officials and victims of the disaster at the War Memorial Center.
It was the largest fire in Cambridge since the 1980s. According to Chief Gerald Reardon, it was miraculous that there wasn't any loss of life.
We are grateful for the incredible response from the Cambridge Fire Department, Cambridge Police Department, Somerville Fire Department, American Red Cross of Massachusetts, City of Cambridge staff, administrators, and officials, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, and all of the other fire crews that were called in from around the region. It was a remarkable demonstration of courage, coordination, and professionalism by hundreds of first-responders in what was described by Chief Reardon as a "war zone."
Now, our immediate attention turns to providing support for the displaced residents. Last night, Mayor Denise Simmons set a goal of $200,000 for the Fire Relief Fund. We're proud to say we surpassed that goal in less than 24 hours. Now, we've upped the goal to $500,000 because the need for assistance, support, and affordable housing is so enormous.
To contribute to the Mayor's Fire Relief Fund, please click here.
The Red Cross has stressed that material donations are difficult to process at this time — the most important thing right now is raising funds that will help people secure replacement housing. All displaced individuals should call the Red Cross at 800-564-1234 or go to the 2nd floor of Cambridge City Hall anytime between 8:30 am and 8 pm tomorrow (Monday, December 5). As always, constituents may call my line, (617) 202-3807, for assistance with this or any other matter.
View from the staging location at the corner of Berkshire and York last night.