May 30, 2023

Worcester Fire Makes Multiple Rescues



WORCESTER — Firefighters made a couple of dramatic saves just before 7 Saturday morning at a a four-story apartment building at 3 West St.

Firefighters rescued a disoriented couple from their burning third-floor apartment and got them out of the building. Firefighters also worked fast to prevent fire from spreading into apartments in the attached portion of the building at 1 West St.

The couple told fire officials that they were glad that firefighters came or they wouldn’t have gotten out otherwise, according to District Chief William M. O’Connell. Fire investigators believe the two-alarm fire, first called in around 6:45 a.m., started in the kitchen of that third-floor apartment.

“Coming up Pleasant Street from Main Street, you could see the fire lapping out the windows off to the porches in the back of the building,” Chief O’Connell said. “Luckily the porches had concrete that saved things in the back from really catching.”

Chief O’Connell said fences prevented firefighters from getting to the back of the building, so they had to enter the building through the front door with hoses to reach the fire.

“The guys did a hell of a job,” Chief O’Connell said. “They got right in. The crews did a great job getting those lines in there and getting that amount of fire out so quickly.”

The structure has two addresses — 1 West St. and 3 West St. A firewall divides the apartment complex and helped prevent the spread of fire to the 1 West St. side. In fact, tenants on the 1 West St. side were allowed back into their homes by early afternoon.

The rescued couple, Idalia Ortega and Dennis Greene, said they were sleeping this morning when their apartment caught fire.

“We were overcome by smoke,” Mr. Greene said. He said neighbors had also tried to get them out of the building. Mr. Greene said the fire was an accident, “I guess something was left on the stove.”

The building’s smoke detectors went off.

Reynaldo Orellana and his family live on the third floor.

“Everybody was sleeping when I heard the alarms,” Mr. Orellana said. “I woke my kids. Nobody had time to grab anything.”

Tenants and authorities scrambled to make sure everyone was out of the building. According to fire officials, 31 people, including 12 children, were displaced from the 15 apartments. The American Red Cross assisted the tenants. One cat perished.

“It could have been a lot worse. A lot of people were still sleeping,” Chief O’Connell said. “The alarms worked and probably saved a lot of people.”

A firefighter who was slightly injured was treated and released from a city hospital.

Fire officials preliminarily estimated the damages to be $100,000.

The building is owned by William Mantalvanos, according to authorities. He was at the building this morning.

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