GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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January 19, 2013

Update: Perkins Street house fire ruled 'accidental'

The cause of the fire that ravaged a three-family house on Perkins Street late Friday night and Saturday morning has been deemed accidental, Gloucester fire officials say, but the precise cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

Gloucester Deputy Chief Miles Schlichte said Saturday that the smoky, two-alarm fire, which struck at around 10:30 Friday night, started in a first-floor bedroom.

The blaze drove eight people from their homes, including two families being placed in temporary housing by the Red Cross – “in this case, a hotel stay paid for by our donors,” said Kat Powers, communcatiins director out of the Red Cross office in Cambridge. The other family is staying with family, Powers added.

All three units in the 9 Perkins St. building were occupied at the time, but all escaped safely — including one couple with an infant and another with a child. The Red Cross is also providing emergency funds for food and clothing, and provided blankets for those at the scene, Powers said.

“We’re handing out comfort kits, which are toiletries one will need in the morning, and funds for baby supplies the infant will need,” she added..

A Gloucester Fire Department crew also remained on the scene Saturday. The fire, on a narrow street that is off Mount Vernon Street above Prospect, posed a number of obstacles for crews, who confined the blaze to the single bulding.

“It’s a tough place to fight a fire,” Schlichte said Saturday morning – “tough access, a lot of properties on top of each other, a windy night -- the guys did a real good job.” The Department of Public Works was also called in around 12:45 a.m. Saturday to bring sand into the area, as streets iced up and firefighters started using chainsaws to clear debris.

The initial alarm for the fire came in around 10:30, and went to a second alarm shortly before 11 p.m.

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