By Marjorie Nesin
---- — On the coldest day of the winter, Gloucester firefighters battled two fires, one on upper Washington Street and the other in West Gloucester.
But in both cases Thursday, fire crews knocked down both blazes quickly, seeing that no one was injured in the process.
Temperatures stirred around 3 degrees — with wind chill readings well below zero — when Gloucester firefighters rushed from the station at 4:15 a.m., heading to a two-story wood frame house on Washington Street where flames vented from a first-floor window. Police and neighbors banged on the doors just before firefighters arrived, but though there was a truck parked in the driveway, firefighters searching the home learned that the residents were away that morning.
The fire was caused by a combustible that came in contact with an electric baseboard heater, an investigation by Fire Inspector Joseph Mountain and Deputy McRobb determined.
Firefighters contained the fire to the room in which it originated, authorities said. The house owner confirmed that the tenants were out of state, then worked with firefighters to secure the building, according to firefighters
Later in the morning Thursday, a second fire ignited at a one-story Woodman Street house in West Gloucester at about 11:20 a.m., after the homeowner tried to unfreeze his pipes using a blow torch-type tool, according to Fire Inspector Joseph Mountain.
Firefighters said they put out the blaze quickly, within 20 minutes or so, but the fire left damage in its wake.
“There is significant damage, but it stayed in the kitchen,” Mountain said.
All of the city’s fire stations were open during both fires Thursday, but only the Central Station and the West Gloucester stations remained open Thursday night.
The Thursday fires came just six days after a Friday night blaze at a 9 Perkins Street multifamily unit left eight people without homes.
When that two-alarm fire struck at around 10:30 Friday night, all three units in the 9 Perkins St. building were occupied, but all of the residents escaped safely — including one couple with an infant and another with a 7-year-old grandchild. Two families were placed in temporary housing by the Northeast Massachusetts chapter of the American Red Cross and the other residents are staying with family.
Fire officials confirmed the cause of the Perkins Street fire, which began in a first-floor bedroom, to be accidental
Wednesday, however, two Gloucester residents were arrested on charges of trespassing with intentions to commit a misdemeanor and breaking and entering during the daytime at the 9 Perkins St, property after the building owner saw the men exiting the basement of the residence and called police about 1:32 p.m.
Officers caught up with Teofilo R. Silva, 43, of Friend Street, and 33-year-old Elfrane Rodrigues of Taylor Street on Taylor Street and arrested both men. The pair told police they “only wanted to see the inside of the house” and that Silva was using the bathroom inside the house.
Police said the pair, who “appeared to be intoxicated,” had opened cabinets in the basement and had left the bulk head basement door “wide open.”
Staff Writer James Niedzinski contributed to this story.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at email@example.com.