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May 22, 2018
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Fire destroys Fall River mutifamily home on New Year’s Eve
Updated On: Jan 07, 2018

FALL RIVER – One hose sputtered to a stop. Then the second of three.

Flames began to immediately build from the north side of 1545 Rodman St.

Then the third hose stopped and Fire Capt. Neil Furtado knew the fire department was in for a long, cold night.

Fire that started on the first floor of a three-story apartment house raced up wall cavities and got into the attic eaves, destroying the home.

No one was injured, though several people fell on the ice that covered everything on the street. Red Cross was called in to help the displaced residents find shelter for the night.

The call came in just before 9 p.m. when temperatures had sunk to single digits. District Chief Michael Clark pulled up and immediately called for more equipment, Furtado said.

“It was just miserable, trying to get water on it,” said Furtado, the department spokesman. “We had issues with water freezing all over the place. The hydrants froze.

“Teams made an interior attack for the first half hour. Then the chief hit the horns and they had to evacuate.”

By that point, firefighters with Heavy Rescue One had been into the building and searched every floor, determining there was no one left inside.

Once the district chief ordered an evacuation, firefighters began what is known as “surround and drown.” They poured water from above and from all four sides until the flames died.

That was not easy.

It was cold enough for the water in the hose to freeze if firefighters shut down the spray nozzle to move.

When that happens, firefighters have to shut off the flow at the pump, remove the nozzle, turn on the pump to push ice from the hose and then shut it down to get the nozzle back on before the hose freezes again.

The fire department had 64 firefighters working. Surrounding communities covered empty fire stations. The city department of public works showed up to close Rodman Street at Brayton Avenue.

“As we fought the fire, they were there, hand-spreading salt so we could move around the fire scene,” Furtado said.

The fire department borrowed a bus to transport firefighters to nearby stations so they could warm up before returning to work at the scene.

City tax records list Eduardo Amaral as the owner of 1545 Rodman St. The three-family home was sold to him in 2014 for $247,500, records show. A man described by police as the building owner declined comment Monday morning.

The house was destroyed by the fire. The roof is gone and the interior was gutted.

Fire investigators say the fire is listed as accidental. They are examining a space heater being used on the first floor.

Email Kevin P. O’Connor at koconnor@heraldnews.com.


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