MEDFORD (CBS) – A mom with her newborn was sitting in the front second-story window she said her boyfriend smelled smoke. They and everyone else in the building ran from the fast-moving flames.
“Oh God, help us,” said Denise Ortiz.
Fire surrounded firefighters as they tried to stop it from spreading.
“I just lost everything,” said Ortiz.
Ortiz clutched a blanket. Only moments before she was inside her apartment with her three kids. She says smoke alarms did not go off. It was a neighbor who alerted them.
“Banging on the door, her daughter is screaming get out. The house is on fire,” said Ortiz.
“It was a difficult fire to fight,” said Medford Fire Deputy Chief Brian Cronin.
The house is in a tough spot. It’s at the end of Canal Street in Medford in the middle of a packed-in neighborhood and backs up to the Mystic River.
“I actually happened to be here for a gas about a year ago and I had already kind of I suppose game-planned this out in my head that if I ever had a fire because I knew it was going to be no access,” Cronin said.
The old home was also divided into four apartments. The three families inside were able to escape. A woman living in the fourth unit had just moved out.
“The only thing I was worried about at the moment was getting everyone out and my cat,” said Keanu Otero. “I hope I am able to salvage something inside of my house. I have a lot of photos of memories and stuff like that that I know my mother is not willing to lose and I definitely do not want her to lose those either.”
Firefighters do now know where the fire started. Investigators worked well into the night, talking with the residents and going through the building.
Denise Ortiz still holding her blanket watched, unable to salvage any of her possessions.
“You know this year, 2020 has been tough,” Ortiz said.
The father of the newborn was treated for smoke inhalation. And a firefighter was taken to the hospital for a knee injury.