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Firefighters: In-Floor Heating System Caused Comm. Ave. Fire

The fire caused $5 million in damage but, thankfully, no injuries.

Investigators say that in-floor radiant heating caused the three-alarm fire in a Commonwealth Avenue brownstone Wednesday morning that resulted in $5 million of damage but no injuries. 

Firefighters responded to the five-story, three-condo building at 9:18 a.m. and quickly called for backup. 

"They were here in a matter seconds," John Walsh, who lives on the third floor of 17 Commonwealth Ave. and was the only one of the building's occupants who was home when alarms sounded, said of the Boston Fire Department.

"When they came into the building the assessed that there was some smoke coming. Without any hesitation, they called for additional backup and they went right into the building, up the stairs," he said. 

Walsh said he was in the shower when he heard the alarms go off. He got out, dried off, got dressed and went to check the panel downstairs, where he saw that the smoke detectors on the fourth and fifth floors went off. As he went to call the building management, the fire department arrived, he said. He then evacuated the building.

Firefighters had to pull down the ceiling in the upper condo, which is on the fourth and fifth floors of the brownstone. The resident of that condo lives alone and was away on business, according to Walsh. 

Not only did the fire destroy the top condo, Walsh's condo suffered extensive water damage. 

"Water is just pouring down," into the third floor, fire spokesman Steve MacDonald told reporters at the scene. 

Firefighters put out the fire within 35 minutes, MacDonald said. 

The adjacent buildings didn't appear to suffer damage. There was a brick firewall between 17 Commonwealth Ave. and the building next door. 

jonathan willner March 23, 2013 at 02:20 PM
as an expert in electrical under floor heating. i would like to know what type of heater was it ,wire/cable, carbon printed circuit, carbon filment or other ? timing is right to change the safety standards i was involved in the late 80s withthe investigation of the ciling heater issues please let me know. jwillner@sympatico.ca 708 363 3600
gary hydock March 25, 2013 at 10:48 PM
Not an expert in under floor electric radiant heat.One wonders if the electric cable caused the 5 Million in damage or the 35 minutes of water coming from the two inch fire hose at about 60 gallons a minute?.
ma April 01, 2013 at 08:57 PM
We may never know, since "followup" is not on the "journalist" ethics list.
Michael King April 27, 2013 at 11:50 AM
Likely the fire investigation is not completed. Once it is done, the information about the fire is public record and should be accessible. As I have an electric in floor heating system and radiant ceiling heat system, which I recently learned is not fully compliant, I am very interested to learn more too. Michael King Mattapoisett, MA wyandottefarm@gmail.com

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