Updated: Unattended Cooking Likely Cause of Essex Street Fire

An unattended stove is the likely cause of a downtown fire that temporarily displaced 11 families.

Inspectors were still completing their investigation Friday afternoon at 25 Essex St., Fire Chief William F. Laliberty told WHAV. He said the fire started in a third floor, rear, apartment. A preliminary review suggests the apartment’s occupant fell asleep while cooking. No person or pet was injured including many families of cats throughout the building, he added.

“They kept it from spreading. It was a very quick, excellent coordinated attack,” he said.

Firefighters responded to reports of smoke at the building just before noon. The mixed-use building also is home to Wicked Big Café and Essex Street Grille.

There was smoke and slight water damage, but occupants won’t be allowed to return until fire alarms are re-set and checked, the chief said. The Red Cross has been called to assist with finding temporary shelter for residents.