Federal, State, Local Authorities Investigate Teele Square Fire
Determining the cause will be difficult, and will take several days, due to the extent of the damage. Meanwhile, nearby businesses grapple with closings due to smoke and water damage.
On Monday morning, local, state and federal fire investigators were at the crumbled and charred remains of a commercial building in Teele Square that burned down late Saturday night.
Somerville fire investigators, Somerville police, the state fire marshal and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, known as ATF, are working together in an effort to determine the cause of the fire. Investigators could be seen examining the burned-down building Monday.
As of that time, the cause of the fire was not known, and Somerville Fire Cheif Kevin Kelleher said that, due to the extent of the damage, "It's going to be difficult to determine the cause."
Kelleher cautioned people not to read too much into the presence of ATF and state investigators. That "doesn't mean it's suspicious or anything," he said.
"ATF is involved because it's a commercial property," Kelleher said, adding that at this point "all causes are considered possible."
It will likely be several days before investigators reach any conclusions as to the fire's cause, he said.
As to the monetary damages, it would be "fully a guess at this point" to put a price tag on the damage, said Kelleher. A lot will depend on how much of the building is ultimately demolished.
The one-story commercial building contains five storefronts. Two were completely destroyed in the fire, the others—one is a police substation—suffered water and smoke damage. The parapet on the roof was also partially damaged, said Kelleher.
The fire chief said once the fire investigation is over a structural engineer will determine how much of the building needs to be demolished. "The possibility of half that block" getting demolished is well within the realm of possibility, he said.
The three-alarm fire began a little before 11 p.m. Saturday, and firefighters fought the blaze throughout the night. Fire companies did not receive the "all out" order, indicating the fire was fully suppressed, until 5:34 Sunday morning, said Kelleher.
Firefighters from Somerville, Cambridge, Boston, Medford, Chelsea and Everett responded to the fire, working in wet, cold and snowy conditions due to an early season October snowstorm.
During the height of the firefighting effort Saturday night and early Sunday morning, thick clouds of smoke blew through Teele Square, and several inches of water streamed down Broadway as firefighters trained their hoses on the burning building.
There were no reported injuries of any significance, said Kelleher, but six firefighters did receive minor injuries. All of them remained on duty.
In addition to the two businesses that were destroyed in the fire—Hawk Cleaners and Nail Image, a nail salon—four nearby businesses and a police substation have been temporarily shut down due to the fire.
The firewall between the nail salon and Kee Kar Lau Fine Asian Cuisine prevented the fire from spreading further, but there was substantial smoke and water damage to Kee Kar Lau, Maria's Italian Cold Cuts and the West Somerville police substation, which are all in the same commercial building where the fire occurred. They were all boarded up Monday morning.
In the building next door, which escaped the flames but also suffered some smoke and water damage, Maria Ferry Salon was temporarily closed and will likely reopen Wednesday. Rudy's Cafe, a popular Teele Square restaurant, was closed Sunday and was planning to reopen Monday evening.
Rainbow Carpet, which had a sign hanging from the Broadway storefront, is located behind the burned building and was not damaged.
Rob Halpin, owner of Rudy's, said he was "very pleased" he would be able to open Monday night.
Rudy's is located next to Somerville's Teele Square fire station, and Halpin said the firefighters did an "amazing job" fighting the fire.
"It's nice to know they come in for take-out and you can thank them," he said.
John Fallon, who owns the building that contains Rudy's and Maria Ferry Salon, said he was "very very lucky" the fire didn't spread to his building.
"I really appreciate the firefighters. I saw them bust their "*ss Saturday night," he said.