Residents escape from raging three-alarm blaze in Watertown

WATERTOWN — Residents escaped without injury from a raging three-alarm fire in Watertown this morning and a dog may have helped to save their lives, fire officials said.

Deputy Fire Chief Rob Iannetta said this morning that a dog’s bark apparently helped to wake people up.

Fire Inspector Stephen Igoe said he had overheard that a dog may have alerted some people in the house to the fire, but smoke detectors alerted people on the second floor. A total of 10 people were displaced from the two-family home.

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When firefighters responded to the building at 417 School St. at 12:30 a.m., its rear was engulfed in heavy fire extending to all of its three floors, Iannetta said.

The fire was knocked down at 2 a.m. and was completely out a little over an hour later, Iannetta said. A firefighter was transported to the hospital after getting something in her eye, he said. She has since been treated and released.

Igoe said the cause of the fire is still under investigation, but it appears to have started in the back porch on the first floor and raced up that entire side of the house and across the roof.

Iannetta estimated the home was nearly a total loss and sustained at least $200,000 in damage. The fire mainly damaged the second and third floors, with smoke and water damage on the first floor, he said.

Igoe said the roof of the home fell into the third floor, and the residents were lucky to escape unharmed. He said the building would have to be completely gutted to be rebuilt.

“They knocked it down pretty quick, but it did a lot of damage,” Igoe said.

The owner of the home was assessing the damage along with insurance agents this afternoon and did not wish to speak to the media.

Heat from the fire also melted siding on the neighboring home at 294 Belmont St. and damaged a garage behind the home, he said.

Havva Guney, 39, who lives at 294 Belmont St., said by the time she woke up the fire was already very big and she evacuated the home with her husband and their young child.

“It was so scary,’ Guney said. “It was a big fire.”

Guney said she was allowed to return to her home early this morning. The American Red Cross assisted a family of four, including two children, from the first floor, said Ashley Studley, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross. The other residents were not at the scene when the Red Cross arrived.