Brockton police officer Eric Burke was driving down Newbury Street Saturday night when he spotted smoke pouring from a multi-family home.
A woman stood on the front porch.
“She was just standing there saying, ‘Help, help,’” said Burke, who radioed in the fire and then ran to tell the woman to get away from the house.
The two-alarm blaze at 104 Newbury St. tore through the second and third floors of the home Saturday night, sending huge balls of flame through the roof.
Two firefighters suffered minor injuries in the blaze, which fire crews fought for more than an hour.
The tenants who were home at the time were Ana Paula Cardosa, 29, and her daughter, Geny Cardosa, 1, said fire Lt. Edward Williams.
The child was taken to a local hospital as a precaution, said Fire Chief Kenneth Galligan.
Newbury Street is located off Belmont Street near downtown, one street down from Warren Avenue. The fire was reported about 5:50 p.m.
Burke, the officer who was first on scene, said he entered the house and found the first floor clear. He was soon followed by officers Robert Smith and Scott Landry, who had responded to Burke’s call.
“It’s very unusual when we’re here before the Fire Department,” Smith said. “We kicked every door open that we could, but the smoke was so intense. It forced us back.”
Soon after the officers left the home, they saw the side of it fully engulfed in flames.
The officers feared there may have been more people on the second and third floors — but the floors turned out to have been empty, Galligan said.
Seven Brockton engines responded to the fire.
Then, three minutes later, a second fire in the city was reported.
The city was forced to send its last three engines to the fire, located in the chimney of a home at 11 Fern Circle, said Deputy Fire Chief Richard Francis.
There were no injuries in that fire, which was quickly contained, Francis said.
Meanwhile, Stoughton firefighters joined Brockton crews at the Newbury Street blaze. Firefighters from Whitman, East Bridgewater, Avon and West Bridgewater covered fire stations in Brockton, Galligan said.
At the scene, firefighters doused the heavy flames from four directions, with two crews atop truck ladders holding aiming hoses at the fire.
One ladder crew appeared to be just yards from the bright yellow flames shooting from the roof.
Crowds of neighbors stood across the street watching the scene, shocked by the persistence of the fire.
“Why isn’t it going out?” said Cheryl Buckley, 19, who lives on nearby Ellsworth Street.
The fire was largely extinguished by about 7 p.m., although not before doing more than $100,000 in damage and rendering the home uninhabitable, Williams said.
It was not immediately clear where the displaced family would be staying for the night, he said.
One firefighter suffered a cut from glass near his eye, while a second firefighter suffered a knee injury, Galligan said.
The firefighters, whose names were not released, were taken to a local hospital for treatment, the chief said.
Galligan said it was too early to know the cause of the fire.
Neighbors noted that there have been two fires in the neighborhood in the past two years.
A home just across the street, on the corner of Newbury and Ellsworth streets, remains charred and uninhabitable from a fire last September.
A sign posted in front of the house by the Arson Watch Reward Program offers $5,000 for information about the fire.
Also, in January 2008, a single-family home on Ellsworth Street was heavily damaged and left uninhabitable by a fire.
Fire officials did not say at the time whether the fire was suspicious. But neighbor Jennifer Souza said she’s on edge.
“It’s a little scary that there are all these fires going on,” said Souza, 26, who lives on Ellsworth Street.
“If I find out someone did that, I’m moving,” said Buckley, a mother of two, staring at the Newbury Street fire.
Click Here to See Newbury Street Fire Photos