‘War Zone': Massive Fire Destroys, Damages 4 Homes

A massive fire that destroyed and damaged four Massachusetts homes late Tuesday night also sent the town's fire chief to the hospital for exhaustion.

The fire started just before midnight at 158 Wheelock Ave. in Millbury before spreading to three other nearby homes.

Millbury Fire Chief Richard Hamilton was taken to UMass Medical Center by ambulance after collapsing on the scene from exhaustion and dehydration, officials said. He was released Wednesday morning. 

No other injuries were reported.

After being released from the hospital, Chief Hamilton told NBC Boston that a propane tank was going off during the fire and the blaze was bringing down electrical wires, causing the scene to look like a "war zone."

Ultimately, two families were displaced after the fire spread from one home to three others. Two cars were and a garage were also damaged by the flames.

The home at 158 Wheelock has been torn down, while the home at 160 Wheelock was declared unliveable; the other two homes have been declared liveable, but damaged.

The fire was so large that people in surrounding homes in the neighborhood also felt the heat, with one man saying he was worried that it would spread more.

"You see it on TV, you see it in the movies, but when you're living it, it's so different. It's so close, I mean, I'm a house a way, and the flames were coming," neighbor Arnaldo Burgos said.

Although the exact cause of the fire is still unknown, fire investigators say they believe excessive clutter may have contributed to the spread of the fire from 158 Wheelock Ave.

Officials say the town has been trying to remedy the situation at 158 Wheelock Ave. for years, and that the attorney general's office recently got involved with the situation. The property was cited eight days ago for illegal burning, and neighbors have repeatedly complained about the house being an eye sore.

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