< Back to front page Text size +

Two years after a fire took their homes, a community returns to Wardman Road

Posted by Patrick Rosso  November 18, 2013 04:14 PM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article


(Patrick D. Rosso/

Tenants, elected officials, and representatives from Urban Edge celebrated as they cut the ribbon on the new building.

With her bare feet freezing on the cold concrete, Judith Lamb, 55, watched her home and her possessions go up in an intense orange and red blaze. Now, two years later, Lamb and her neighbors are able to return to the Wardman Road building they call home.

On Saturday, Urban Edge, the owner of the building, welcomed its tenets back to their Roxbury apartments and celebrated the return of the tight-knit community to the building.

“For many it’s not just about coming back to a home, but coming back to a community,” said Chrystal Kornegay, president and CEO of Urban Edge, a community development agency with properties throughout Roxbury and Jamaica Plain.

On Oct. 17, 2011 firefighters battled a six-alarm blaze caused by a gas explosion at the three-story brick building, according to the Boston Globe.

“I was in bed talking to a friend when I heard a big boom,” Lamb said. “I thought we were trapped. Both entrances were blocked by fire so we had to go out the window.”

As neighbors watched flames engulf their apartments, many didn’t know what to do. Shock and sadness was the predominate emotion displayed that night, but the bonds that many found in the building never frayed.

“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to come back or if I could, but when I got back I loved it,” Lamb said.

The fire damaged the main structure at 3 Wardman Rd. and the adjacent structures at 7 and 9 Wardman Rd.

Twenty-four families were displaced. Some were able to move back in after the initial cleanup, but for the 12 families that lived in the most heavily damaged buildings, the wait to go home was much longer.

“I’m just so happy to finally be home,” said Zoila Cruz, 43, one of the displaced tenants. “It’s a good community, the neighbors are good to us, our friends are here; we’re just happy to be back.”

It took nearly $4 million to restore the building that fronts on Westminster Avenue. For the tenants, it's about what's inside the building that made them want to come back.

“I didn’t want to come back because of the anxiety about it, but we have a community here and it’s something worth coming back to,” said Lamb.

At Saturday’s ribbon cutting ceremony elected officials thanked the Boston Fire Department for the bravery displayed by its fire fighters and commended residents who came together and looked out for one another.

“You took care of each other and made sure your neighbors were safe,” said City Councilor Tito Jackson. “You turned to one another and not on one another. Today is about the reunification of a community and it’s a wonderful day in Roxbury.”

In addition to the renovations, the new building, which houses affordable units, is expected to be LEED certified Gold. Construction, which was paid for through an insurance claim, began in March and ended in late-September.


(Patrick D. Rosso/

The new building.

Email Patrick D. Rosso, Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article