Firefighters battle a blaze at the Jefferson Village apartments in Framingham earlier today.
(Globe staff photo by Suzanne Kreiter)
Thick, inky smoke flooding the hallways of a Framingham apartment building forced firefighters to pluck residents off balconies with ladder trucks and sent six people to the hospital during a three-alarm fire this afternoon, public safety officials said.
Three residents of the Jefferson Village apartments and three firefighters were transported to local hospitals, but none of their injuries were considered serious, Framingham police Lt. Paul Shastany said. A fourth firefighter was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation but returned to duty.
Shastany said, the intense smoke caused a "nightmare" scenario for firefighters by making it tough to find the source of the blaze and slowing efforts to evacuate residents, many of them elderly.
"I have never seen a fire scene in my 32 years where they (firefighters) used up so many air packs," he said. The firefighters who were injured had used up their air."
The first police and firefighters arriving at the scene just after noon were beaten back by the intense smoke from the fire, which is believed to have started on the second floor of the five-story brick building. Two residents were taken off balconies by ladder trucks because officials feared they would be overcome by the smoke if they tried to use the interior hallways and stairwells, Shastany said.
Officials cut power to all 72 units in the building, which is located just off of Route 9, and said residents would have to find another place to stay for at least a few days. Bala Sundaram, a 38-year-old software engineer who lives on the second floor, said his wife Suba and two-year-old daughter Adithya were home when someone pounded on the door and yelled for them to get out.
"We're all OK," he said. "They say we won't be able to get back in for two or three days. We'll go to my friend's house first, then probably to a hotel."
A woman who identified herself only as Jeanette said police removed her 80-old-mother from her first floor apartment by stretcher as firefighters fought the blaze above.
"She's really shaken up," the woman said as she loaded her mother's aluminum walker into the back of an SUV. "Until I can get her back in, she'll stay with me ... for a little tea and sympathy."
-- Ralph Ranalli
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