Family returns to scene of Fall River house fire

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — A family in Fall River returned to the scene of a fire Monday that destroyed their home.

The family of five — heartbroken after a fast-moving fire tore through their triple-decker on Seabury Street around 11 p.m. Sunday— told Eyewitness News they are staying in a hotel until they find a new place to live.

“We’re so devastated for them,” said Janice Botelho, a neighbor.

Botelho said she is close to the family, which consists of two parents, their children and a grandchild. She said the homeowner is a veteran —  who spent Memorial Day searching for a new place to live.

“He was a veteran. On Memorial Day — Happy Memorial day. Burned out of your home, it’s terrible,” Botelho said.

Officials said two firefighters suffered burns and heat exhaustion during the blaze, and were later released from the hospital.

“I’m not a firefighter by any means, but a loss like this is unacceptable,” said CJ Ferry.

Some residents said they were upset about the firefighters who were laid off in the past year — more than two dozen.

“I’d really like to see some of them brought back because it could be my house and anybody’s house, and we really need them,” Botelho said.

District Fire Chief Ambrose Smith admitted that the layoffs are stretching the department thin — and that firefighters were delayed getting to the scene because they had been battling another blaze.

“The damage here is more than it should have been, and I do feel badly for the people that lived there. Thank God nobody got seriously hurt,” Smith said.

Smith said the fire is still under investigation, but the department believes a portable heater may be to blame.

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