Fire kills two, leaves 30 displaced

by Beacon Staff • February 28, 2007

Rhiannon McCuish and Stephen Adelipour, both 21-year-old Boston University (BU) students, died in the fire that started at approximately 5:15 a.,A fire that ripped through an apartment building last week left two students dead and at least 30 people displaced, according to Steve MacDonald, spokesman for the Boston Fire Department (BFD).

Rhiannon McCuish and Stephen Adelipour, both 21-year-old Boston University (BU) students, died in the fire that started at approximately 5:15 a.m. on Feb. 24.

The fire began on the third floor of the building, which is located at 19-21 Aberdeen St., and was determined to have been accidentally ignited.

According to MacDonald, the power to the buildings had been cut off in order for repair work to take place, and several tenants had lit candles, one of which probably started the fire.

MacDonald said the damage to the building was estimated at $1 million and would take several months to repair.

The occupants of the building were primarily BU students, and the college is currently attempting to help find relocations for the displaced students.

Margot Wood, a junior marketing communication major who lives on Aberdeen Street, said she woke up because of the smell and then saw the engines arrive.

"I went outside and saw a lot of white smoke coming from the adjacent building," she said in an e-mail to The Beacon. "At the time, it didn't seem like anyone was in danger because the firemen weren't very frantic and there were no ambulances on the street. The next morning, I looked out the window and saw that the entire street was blocked off. Even though it wasn't my building where the fire had occurred, I was still very upset and scared. I am incredibly thankful that the firemen put the fire out before it spread even further into other buildings."

It is believed that there are no Emerson students who lived in the building.

According to Elin Riggs, coordinator of Off-Campus Student Services, 83 Emerson students live in the Fenway area, where the fire occurred, but she has not been contacted by anyone who has been displaced.

David Haden, associate director of Housing and Residence Life, said that he, too, did not know of any Emerson students who currently live in the burned building.

According to Riggs, if someone were to be displaced, her office would assist students in figuring out the terms of their lease, helping them find a short-term apartment rental or on-campus housing.

"A management company would probably put a tenant up in a hotel for a while," she said. "But after that, we would help them find a place to stay. If there was anything available on campus, they would get housing pro-rate."

The Feb. 24 fire was one of three major blazes to occur in less than a week.

The first, which occurred on Feb. 22 on Endicott St. in the North End, left at least 50 people without homes, though no one was injured, according to a recent Boston Globe report.

MacDonald said the cause of the fire is still under investigation, though he added that investigators do not suspect arson.

The most recent fire was on Feb. 26 in Dorchester and was started by an electrical issue, McDonald said.

According to him, the flames left two firefighters with minor injuries, but this has been the only harm that the force has suffered fighting the three fires.

Though all of the blazes have been determined to be accidental, MacDonald said it is unusual to see so many major fires in such a short period of time.

"Fires do occur more in the winter," he said. "People are home more and go to extraordinary measures to heat their homes. They do things that aren't up to code. But there is no logical reason for this many fires so close together."