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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence firefighters say Saturday’s house fire on Nelson Street was accidental, caused by smoking materials on a porch.
The fire at the multi-family home resulted in minor injuries for five firefighters, Assistant Chief Scott Mello said. One firefighter was still in the hospital overnight Saturday but is in stable condition.
In the Elmhurst neighborhood Saturday, residents and the home’s owners were praising Rick Bugbee, a good samaritan who rushed into the burning building to get everyone out safely.
“It really spread quickly,” Bugbee remarked in an interview with Eyewitness News. “I’ve never run into a burning house before.”
Bugbee says when the fire broke out on the second floor, he first knocked on the front door of the downstairs unit. No one answered.
“I ran around the back and people answered,” he said. “They were in the back of the house and had no idea their house was on fire.”
Neighbors say they watched Bugbee run up the stairs to the unit that was burning and kick in the door. No one was home, and he got out in time to inform arriving firefighters and police that everyone was out safely.
“They showed up very quickly,” Bugbee said. “I was impressed.”
Chief Cirelli says firefighters had to work fast to contain the fire from spreading to the house next door, where the siding melted due to the heat exposure.
“There was a lot of insulation,” says Chief Cirelli. “It was tough. It keeps the heat in, so it was very hot up there.”
Fire investigator Sean Reddy told Eyewitness News that smoking materials started the fire on the front balcony of the second story apartment, where the owners of the building live.
Those owners, distraught outside the home, said they had recently renovated their home with new furniture and lost precious family heirlooms in the fire.
The American Red Cross said they were helping several of the displaced residents Saturday night.
Brian Yocono contributed to this report.