The fire that broke out at a triple-decker in Worcester, Massachusetts, and spread to a second building Friday night, killing two people, has now claimed the life of a third person. And family members tell us all of the victims were related.
Worcester firefighters responded around 7:30 p.m. Friday to 11 and 13 Jaques Avenue for two triple-deckers on fire where they received reports of trapped residents. The fire at 11 Jaques Ave. was quickly brought under control, but the fire at 13 Jaques Ave. was well advanced, and interior conditions deteriorated quickly, prompting a fifth alarm.
According to the state fire marshal, shortly after firefighters arrived on scene, a person had jumped from a third-floor porch of 13 Jaques Ave. to escape the advancing flames. Authorities said Saturday the victim was suffering from life-threatening skeletal and burn injuries, but the state fire marshal confirmed Sunday that the victim had died from his injuries.
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It was the third death connected to the fire. The other two victims were found by firefighters inside a first-floor apartment in the 13 Jaques Ave. building.
Two days after the devastating fire, the community turned out to remember the victims: Edna Mae Williams, Gerald Prince and Woodrow Adams Sr.
“I had the best husband you ever wanted," said Lorraine Adams.
Lorraine and Woodrow Adams were just shy of a major wedding anniversary.
It was Woodrow Adams who jumped out of a window to escape the flames and later died from injuries he sustained.
“I was looking forward to spending 50 years with my husband, but I know he’s looking down on me,” Lorraine Adams said.
The couple's son, Woodrow Adams Jr., lost his father, grandmother and uncle.
“He’s here in spirit," he said of his father. "He’s not gone anywhere.”
Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early, Jr. on Saturday tweeted that Woodrow Adams, a court officer, and his family had "suffered a horrible tragedy" in the fire, saying his thoughts and prayers went out to Adams and his family.
Thirteen people were displaced as a result of the fire in both Jaques Ave. buildings. The family had lived in the home for generations, and the street was filled Sunday night with neighbors who wanted to offer their condolences.
“This is the love, and we see it and we appreciate it and we love it and we accept it,” said Woodrow Adams' daughter, Ramona.
And they say even though the fire drove them out, they're not leaving.
“This property is a little broken right now — just a little broken. That’s it — it’s just a little broken, but we will rebuild,” Woodrow Adams Jr. said.
The Worcester Fire Department said in a statement Saturday that it is deeply saddened by the devastating loss of life at this incident, noting they marked the first fire fatalities of 2021 in the City of Worcester.
While still under investigation, it has been determined that the fire originated either on the first floor or basement of 13 Jaques Ave., and that it had been burning in the concealed spaces for some time before it was discovered and reported.
It's still unclear what caused the fire, but it is not considered suspicious. The mayor says investigators should have more information in a few days.