Boxborough (MA) Fire Chief Recounts Massive Fire

The day after a massive four-alarm fire swept through a condo complex on Swanson Road and displaced dozens, Boxborough Fire Chief Paul Fillebrown took solace in the fact that there was no loss of life and no injuries reported.

Patty Mahoney

Wicked Local Northwest, Concord, Mass.


Feb. 12—The day after a massive four-alarm fire swept through a condo complex on Swanson Road and displaced dozens, Boxborough Fire Chief Paul Fillebrown took solace in the fact that there was no loss of life and no injuries reported.

“There was a lot of fire resources from the region used last night but the outcome which I’m very pleased about is that there is no loss of life — that’s priority one,” said Fillebrown. “Great job by fire and police last night.”

Since the scene has been deemed unsafe and a couple of spots were still smoldering Thursday morning, investigators have been unable to get on top of the scene. At this time the cause is undetermined and initial reports by the state Fire Marshal’s office do not point to a suspicious origin, but the investigation is active.

Police officers and firefighters initially went inside the Leverett House Condos after an alarm came in for a fire in the roof area of the building at 101 Swanson Road. The alarm soon escalated from two to four alarms which meant crews from neighboring towns — and as far away as Sudbury were called in to assist.

Water was sourced from nearby ponds since Boxborough does not have fire hydrants.

Upon arrival, crews made an interior aggressive attack to contain the fire. Police officers and firefighters went door to do to evacuate residents who had not initially fled the building.

“The alarm came in around supper time so people are used to cooking food and having alarms go off and people get complacent with that,” said Fillebrown.

When Fillebrown got to the scene he saw conditions were deteriorating and ordered firefighters to evacuate the building. At that point crews went into an exterior intensive attack mode.

At that point all 24 apartments had been evacuated and it was about preserving property and firefighter safety.

“And probably 5 or 10 minutes after the evacuation we had a collapse of the roof area,” said Fillebrown.

Fillebrown said the scene will be turned back over to the property owners and the building inspector will be involved but he suspects a portion if the building will need to be torn down in order to access it.

As of now, officials are working to secure the building and allow for re-entry so that those who are able to retrieve belongings may do so safely.

What, if any, personal items will be retrieved is still in question.

“It’s all positional because a certain part of that building will be condemned — though it’s up to the building inspector,” said Fillebrown. “But a lot of residents will be affected by loss of property.

The UCC Boxborough as set up a Community Fund to support the dozens displaced from the fire. For more information, visit


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