How to Help East Cambridge Fire Victims

Yesterday’s 10-alarm fire in East Cambridge was one of the worst in the city’s history. We are extremely lucky that there was no loss of life and only minor injuries. But dozens of our fellow residents have been displaced from the 8-10 buildings that were impacted by the fire.

One of the hardest hit was the former St. Patrick’s Church, which was converted to 18 units of affordable housing by Just-a-Start. (St. Patrick’s Place includes 4 buildings on York St with a total of 32 affordable units; at this time I don’t know if the other 3 buildings were affected.) York Street and Berkshire Street abut Donnelly Field, which sits behind the MLK/Cambridge Street Upper School, Valente Library and Gold Star Mothers Pool complex that was just demolished and will be newly constructed over the next couple of years. This is an enormous amount disruption and construction for one very dense neighborhood to absorb, and everyone who lives in the area will be affected to some degree.

How we can help
At this point financial donations are the best way to help those who have been displaced or whose homes have been damaged. You can make an online donation to the Mayor’s Fire Relief Fund¬†or mail a check payable to the same to: City Hall, 795 Mass Ave., Cambridge MA 02139. The Mayor’s Office is also collecting donations of gift cards to grocery and department stores. The Red Cross is assessing individual needs for housing, clothing and so forth, and we will have more information on specific material needs in the coming days.

Fire safety precautions
Please take a moment to check the smoke detectors in your home, and to look for other potential fire hazards — space heaters, holiday lights, candles, overloaded outlets, clogged dryer vents etc. The American Red Cross’s fire prevention checklist is worth a look.

Remember to thank all our first responders
If you know a firefighter, police officer or first responder in Cambridge or any of the 17 other communities who answered the call for mutual aid, please extend our deepest gratitude for averting what could have been an even greater tragedy.

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Jan Devereux
City Councillor
Cambridge, MA