An early morning fire sent 18 people running out of their homes. Flames broke out at a Quequechan St. 3-decker around 4:30. The stubborn fire quickly spread to the apartment building next door. Luis Ocasio and his family made it out safe, but he couldn't help but think the fire was suspicious. This is the second time flames broke out at the abandoned apartment building next door in recent months.
"It's scary you know cuz I got kids. And I live next door. What if I didn't wake up? What would have happened?" said Ocasio.
The 3-decker had been boarded up, and the power was turned, leading firefighters to the same conclusion of arson. Accelerant sniffing dogs were brought in to search for clues. Massachusetts State Police were also called in to assist. Cadvar dogs searched the rubble, as is standard when there is a fire an abandoned building.
The Aldrich School Head Start program is just a few doors down. They closed Thursday as a direct result of the fire. Officials with the program say they will also be closed Friday due to rust colored water, the smell of smoke in the building, and close proximity to the building, which will be demolished.
Firefighters say the 3-decker was in danger of collapsing further and ordered it to be demolished. Cranes arrived around 10:30 am and began tearing down walls piece by piece. Investigators focused on the back corner where they believe the fire began.
Full-day students that go to Aldrich will report to the Maple Center Head Start on Maple Street again tomorrow. That's the same place they were moved to Thursday.