FALL RIVER — Barely four months after a family moved into their single-family home at 749 Cambridge St. a swift-moving fire Sunday afternoon, apparently starting from the back porch, left them homeless and the house apparently destroyed.
“It’s a total loss,” public insurance adjuster Ed Marinilli said at the scene, stating that it’s “fully insured.”
The fire call came at 1:16 p.m. and included dramatic events.
Neighbor Lindsey Cabral of 750 Cambridge St. said her mother and other motorists seemed to be the first ones alerted to the fire, and some banged on the front door of the three-story, vinyl-sided house, screaming for people to get out.
A man, whom officials identified as Charlie Huot, and his 4-year-old son, Raiden Huot, were the residents at home and escaped without injuries, fire officials said.
Cabral said the adult resident did not seem to know the house was on fire.
Cabral’s husband, Joe, rushed into the house and grabbed a small family dog. Huot, looking shell shocked, identified the friendly, white and chocolate brown dog as a Japanese chin.
The family’s other dog was found dead in a bathroom on the second floor about 30 to 45 minutes after firefighters first arrived, Capt. Michael Shea, the acting district chief, said.
He said they had the fire under control within 30 to 35 minutes.
Huot, who speaks limited English, said a pet dog they lost was a bichon. He also said the fire started in the rear of the house.
Fire officials identified the owner as Huot’s girlfriend, Phan Bour, who was not home, and said another child lives at the home and was not there.
Less than three hours after the fire started, the couple and a small, dark-haired boy holding a stuffed animal, sat close together with their dog in the Cabral’s side yard lawn. Across narrow Cambridge Street city crews were investigating the fire and cleaning debris.
Shea said when the initial engine company arrived “the whole back side was going.” He arrived shortly afterwards. “I could see fire out of the first-floor windows and smoke coming out of pretty much everywhere,” She said.
He said the crews of well over a dozen firefighters with four pumpers, two ladder trucks and a rescue were forced to initially fight the fire from outside before they could make entry.
He and police Lt. Paul Bernier, the investigating officer, said the fire seems to have started on the back deck, and the entire side of that back end was the only one of the four sides completed charred to the roofline.
“I believe the back deck door was open, and with just a screen the wind blew the fire through the house,” Shea said. There was fire and smoke damage on all three levels, he said.
In several areas, particularly near windows, the beige vinyl siding was melted and buckling.
From the information Shea received, it did not appear any cooking was being done on the back deck, he said.
Bernier said they were just beginning to photograph the scene and conduct an investigation.
“It’s tough to pin point the fire (origin) when there is so much damage through the home,” the insurance adjuster said.
Officials said preliminary indications were the fire was not suspicious.
The family had arranged for housing Sunday night and the American Red Cross, which was on scene, plans to provide it afterwards, fire officials said.
Lindsey Cabral, who said she has a 5-year-old son and knows the little boy who moved in across the street, was calm as she sat on her front step. That was not the case a few hours earlier.
“It was absolutely horrific,” she said.
Email Michael Holtzman at email@example.com or call him at 508-676-2573.