Mayor's Disaster Relief Fund and Update on Four-Alarm Fire on Cambridge and Hunting Streets

Mayor's Disaster Relief Fund for Cambridge Residents Displaced by 4-Alarm Fire at Hunting and Cambridge St.

Cambridge Street/Demolition Update

January 17, 2019 - The demolition of the Cambridge Street/Hunting Street fire building is complete. Crews are working to cover and secure the site. Cambridge Street has been reopened. There is a temporary pathway on the school side of the street from Hunting to Harding for pedestrians. The westbound bike lane  will be used as a temporarily pedestrian walkway for a few hours until the remaining work is completed on the demolition site. A police detail will be on Cambridge Street until this afternoon to assist with traffic.

Hunting Street remains closed.

Probable Cause of Fire

January 16, 2019 - Cambridge Fire Chief Gerard E. Mahoney and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said the most probable cause of the January 14, 2019 4-alarm fire at 6 Hunting Street and 851-855 Cambridge Street is electrical. The fire was reported at 5:40 in the morning. One resident was injured and taken to a local hospital and 22 people are displaced by the fire. The building is a total loss and damages are estimated at $5 million dollars

The building was originally three buildings that were turned into one. The 851 Cambridge Street housed the Sunset Café and 855 Cambridge Street had eight apartments. There were two apartments at 6 Hunting Street; one was occupied and one was vacant undergoing renovations.

Investigators determined that the fire started in a void space between the first and second floors on the Hunting Street side of the building and eventually broke out into the apartment undergoing renovations. It also extended horizontally and broke out in the Sunset Café. It appears that the fire burned undetected in the void space for an extended period of time. There is no evidence of an intentionally set fire and there is electrical wiring in the area where the fire started.

Chief Mahoney said, “This was a difficult fire to fight because by the time it broke out, there was already a large volume of fire in the building. Our firefighters worked hard to fight this fire and keep it from spreading to adjacent buildings.”

The building was equipped with hard-wired smoke alarms that were operating when the fire department arrived.

The fire was jointly investigated by members of the Cambridge Fire Investigation Unit, detectives from the Cambridge Police Department and State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

Jan 14, 2019 -Today, an early morning, four-alarm fire occurred at 6 Hunting St. and 851 Cambridge St. The initial time of the call was at 5:42 a.m., with the fourth alarm being issued at 6:33 a.m.. In total, 12 engines, seven ladders, two squads, one rescue, and numerous chief officers and support units were on scene. No serious injuries were reported, with only minor injuries reported due to falls on the ice.

In addition to Cambridge Fire Department, fire companies from Somerville, Belmont, Boston, Brookline, Waltham, and Watertown aided at the fire scene. Fire companies from several cities and towns, including Arlington, Boston, Brookline, Newton, & Waltham, provided station coverage in Cambridge and responded to numerous unrelated incidents in the city during the fire.

The cause of fire is under investigation by the Cambridge Fire Department Fire Investigation Unit and the State Fire Marshal’s Office. As part of that investigation, all residents, property managers, and owners of the buildings involved will be interviewed, and a thorough review of any files, reports, or other relevant information connected to the structures will be conducted.

The Cambridge Fire Department will have no comment on the cause and/or origin of the fire until that investigation is complete.

Support of Impacted Residents

At approximate 8 a.m., the City of Cambridge opened a shelter for impacted residents and neighbors at the Frisoli Youth Center, located at 61 Willow St.

Staff from the City Manager’s Office, various City departments, Metro Housing Boston, Cambridge Housing Authority, and the American Red Cross assisted displaced residents. The Mayor, Vice Mayor, and numerous City Councillors and School Committee members visited the shelter to speak with the impacted residents.

851/855 Cambridge Street is a four-story structure with eight residential units and commercial space, and 6 Hunting Street is a three-story structure with two residential units. In total, 22 individuals in nine units were displaced (1 unit was vacant).

As part of their services, the American Red Cross provided every displaced individual with a $125 debit card for incidental supplies and every household with a $260 debit card for emergency hotel costs. The Red Cross will follow each case for up to 45 days, as necessary. Each household will also receive follow-up support from the appropriate housing agency and all relevant City departments.

Additionally, the Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund will provide displaced residents with $600 per person with a max of $2400 per unit. Checks totaling $11,400 from the Disaster Relief Fund will be available to 19 residents tomorrow morning. The remaining three residents are currently out of state.

The public can help the impacted families by donating to the Mayor's Disaster Relief Fund at

Alternatively, donations can be made in person through the Finance Department's cashier window at City Hall or mailed to address below:

Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund
c/o Finance Dept.
Cambridge City Hall
795 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02139

Traffic and Neighborhood Impacts

Drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians are advised to avoid the area around the fire at Cambridge St and Hunting St and seek alternate routes outside the immediate neighborhood. Cambridge Street will remain closed from Cardinal Medeiros Avenue to Windsor Street until further notice due to clean up and concerns about the structural condition of the building facade.

Cambridge Fire Department crews are expected to remain on scene throughout the night.

Page was posted on 1/14/2019 2:11 PM
Page was last modified on 2/4/2020 3:08 PM
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