By Carol McCracken
Just five days before Christmas Day, the holiday peace was shattered when a fire broke out in the third floor apartment at 1:30 am or so at 11 Sheridan Street on the Hill. The fire left twelve people and two dogs homeless in a 3 story multi-family dwelling. No one was injured. The fire began in a “shed” on the rear of the third floor.
Marie Benham was a tenant on the first floor. She’d lived there with her son, daughter-in-law and 3 l/2 year old grandson, Alexander, and dog, for just a year. They’d consolidated families in order to minimuze living expenses. Marie heard the fire alarm go off and ran up to the third floor where she was told there was a fire in the upstairs “shed.” She was told to get out of the building because “it was too late.” Now they are homeless with no apartment insurance. The Red Cross has located a hotel for them to stay in for the next three nights.
The third floor tenant just moved in this August. He returned home from working in a restaurant around 12:30 a.m. Shortly thereafter he saw smoke coming from the shed in the back of his apartment. While an investigation is under way, the fire may have been caused by a bag of trash that caught on fire in the shed. He is homeless with no apartment insurance.
The second floor tenants had a similar story to tell. When MHN visited the building, all the tenants had returned to salvage what they could and to check on each other.
Snowfall and single digit temps made it especially challenging for the fire department to fight. The fire was under control within 45 minutes.
Tenants all agreed the Munjoy Hill fire department did an “amazing” job. Not only did they put the fire out, but they helped tenants remove valuable items from their apartments. Marie said that three of the fireman pushed her car up Sheridan Street at 3:00 a.m. so she and her family could get away.
The cause of the fire is under investigation and a report is expected next week.