Fire ravages Brockton three-family house, tenants escape
By Elaine Allegrini, Enterprise staff writer
BROCKTON — A woman led her four young children, including a 3-week-old baby, to safety Wednesday after a smoke detector sounded and she found smoke filling the hallway of their three-family home at 28 Snell Ave.
Ameil Chookolingo, 30, said his wife, Michelle, also alerted a third-floor tenant who got out safely with her 6-year-old daughter before the fire raged from the basement through the roof of the 2 1/2-story home.
Firefighters responded at 6:03 p.m. after receiving a call from police. Second and third alarms were sounded shortly after arrival as smoke quickly moved through the 100-year-old building.
“Everyone's alive, that's the main thing,” said Tony Evora of Brockton, whose 6-year-old daughter, Daisha, lives on the third floor of the house with her mother, Christine Medeiros.
He said they had just arrived home when they heard the first-floor tenant shouting for them to get out.
The second-floor apartment was vacant.
Fire Chief Kenneth Galligan led operations at the scene as firefighters fought heavy smoke on all sides of the building and dodged overhead wires to raise a tower and ladder to attack the flames from above.
Electric power was cut to the area as fire companies from Avon and East Bridgewater joined Brockton at the scene. Area streets, including Summer Street, were closed to traffic as firefighters stood by hydrants to control water flows to apparatus on the scene.
Neighbors from throughout the residential area of single- and multi-family houses on the city's southeast side gathered around.
A resident of nearby Hillside Avenue said he initially saw flames coming from the rear of the basement.
Denise Analoro of Summer Street was heading home with her three children when she saw the fire. Concerned that one of her students lived in the house, she walked to the scene. Later, she was able to speak to the family and the boy, a student in her class at the Downey School.
Thankful that the family was safe and sheltered in a neighbor's home, Analoro said the school would rally Thursday to help the family.
Meanwhile, Michelle Chookolingo, her children — ages 9, 5, 1 and 3 weeks — and her mother remained inside a neighbor's home while her husband came outside briefly to watch firefighters battle the blaze.
“Everything I own is gone,” he said, wondering where he and his family would turn in the coming days. He said his mother-in-law had been visiting to help his wife with the new baby, a boy.
Chookolingo said he owned the house at 28 Snell St. for three years, selling it a year ago to get money to open an automotive repair shop, AC's, at 456 Montello St.
The current owner of the house, Bracey Storme of Boston, was not at the scene Wednesday night and Chookolingo said he was unable to reach her by telephone.
According to city records, the property is valued at $484,700 and was sold to Storme Dec. 30, 2005, for $495,000.
City Building Superintendent Joseph Vasapollo, who responded to the scene, said it was too early to say if the building would have to be demolished. Fire prevention inspectors were attempting to determine the cause of the blaze as firefighters continued to pour water on the building, Chief Galligan said.
Mutual aid companies remained on the scene until after 9 p.m. Galligan expected city firefighters would be there until midnight or later.
No injuries were reported during the height of the blaze.
Fire companies from Stoughton, Whitman, Holbrook and Easton provided station coverage in Brockton..