NORTH ATTLEBORO — Fire officials are crediting smoke alarms with not only possibly saving a life on Smith Street Monday afternoon but also the apartment house where the blaze erupted.
‘There was someone on the first floor, they heard a smoke detector going off on the second floor and smelled smoke,” Fire Chief Christopher Coleman said Tuesday. “Smoke detectors really are credited with saving the building and people.
“It was an old Victorian home. If that smoke detector was not working, the fire would have gotten up into the attic and roof. We were able to get there quickly and got water on it quickly.”
Older homes are made with so-called “balloon frame” construction with no fire stops.
“The fire can go from the basement to the attic” inside the walls in no time, Coleman said.
The blaze displaced at least three people and a dog, who are being helped by the Red Cross.
The two-alarm fire was reported just after 4 p.m. at 268 Smith St., not far from Landry Avenue.
Smoke was showing from the second floor when the first fire engines rolled up, and firefighters had the blaze extinguished within about 20 minutes.
The fire heavily damaged at least one apartment, with water damage to a first floor apartment.
“The second floor apartment tenant will be displaced for a while,” Coleman said, adding occupants of the other apartments should be able to return soon.
Fire investigators were still working Tuesday to determine a definitive cause of the fire.
“It is being focused in the kitchen area right now in the second floor apartment,” Coleman said.
About two dozen firefighters responded to the blaze, with town firefighters assisted by Attleboro, Plainville and Foxboro crews. Wrentham and off-duty North Attleboro firefighters covered the fire stations.
So many firefighters and fire departments responded, Coleman said, because the fire occurred during a snowstorm and both town ambulances were tied up on medical runs.
North Attleboro Electric Department responded as well as the town’s building and electrical inspectors.