Cause of Ten-Alarm Fire Announced

1/24/20177 years ago

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Media Contact:
Chief Gerard E. Mahoney

On Saturday afternoon December 3, 2016 a ten-alarm fire occurred in the Harrington/Wellington section of East Cambridge that damaged multiple residential buildings and automobiles. 18 buildings sustained varying degrees of damage and over 100 residents were displaced.

An exhaustive investigation that included the Cambridge Fire Department Fire Investigation Unit, the Cambridge Police Department as well as the Massachusetts State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit commenced before the fire was brought under control. The investigation which lasted several weeks included numerous interviews of neighbors, contractors and eyewitnesses along with the review of many photos and videos from multiple sources. The elimination of alternate causes and sources of ignition were also part of the investigation.

It has been determined the fire originated at 35/37 Berkshire Street, on the left side, rear (known as the Bravo/Charlie corner) in and around some recycling bins that had remnants of construction debris from an ongoing gut/rehab of this property. The cause of the fire was careless disposal of smoking material by subcontractors working at the site on the day of the fire.

Despite the significant destruction, investigators were able to uncover the scene and locate this point of origin through the utilization of witnesses, photos and additional investigative methods.

The Investigation into whether any criminal charges are appropriate remains open and ongoing. For this reason names are not being released at this time.