By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) – A fast moving fire ripped through a three-story apartment building on Edgewood Street in Roxbury late Monday afternoon. Wind fueled the flames and firefighters worked to keep the fire from spreading to nearby buildings.

Several residents told WBZ they heard no smoke detectors as the fire was brewing on the upper floors.

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Neighbors interrupted 72-year-old Merimi Dickson’s late afternoon nap by pounding on her door. “They said ‘Come on, get out, get out Merimi,’” she said. “They said the house is on fire.”

It was neighbors who did a quick head count and concluded that not everyone was out.

“I got a phone call stating the house is on fire, and we don’t see your mom outside,” said Val Dickson, Merimi’s daughter. “Then a neighbor called me to let me know that once they noticed she wasn’t outside, they went in the house and got her.”

It was just after 4:30 p.m. when thick smoke on the upper floors of the old apartment building erupted in flames, engulfing the third floor and attic by the time firefighters got set up in the strong wind.

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“Heavy wind up on the top floor, with the heavy fire it just whips up the fire and makes it a blast furnace,” Boston Fire Commissioner John Dempsey said. “We couldn’t get enough water on it quick enough.”

Firefighters at massive fire on Edgewood Street in Roxbury (WBZ-TV)

Firefighters were removed from the building when the roof began to collapse. One firefighter was injured by falling bricks.

Ten residents, four of them children, fled with only the clothes on their back, including Merimi Dickson. “Forty two years, working hard, I lost everything,” she said.

As Dickson was reunited with her daughter on a nearby street, she was able to look past that loss and give thanks for the neighbors who noticed she wasn’t out yet. “God bless them,” she said.

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The Red Cross is assisting those who have been displaced. The cause of the fire is not yet known, but the building will likely be torn down.

CBSBoston.com Staff