Fire breaks out at 49 Symphony Road, a Northeastern Leased Property


Lina Petronino

A fire broke out Tuesday afternoon at at 49 Symphony Road, a Northeastern Leased Property.

Lina Petronino, news correspondent

At 2:15 p.m. Tuesday, the Boston Fire Department, or BFD, safely evacuated all occupants of a burning multi-unit residential building at 49 Symphony Road, a four-story Northeastern leased property. 

The fire ignited on the third floor, with flames extending to the fourth floor. Water damage also affected the third and fourth floors, both from the building’s sprinklers and the fire department’s hoses. The estimated property damage is $300,000, BFD said on Twitter. There are no reported injuries, and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

“Smoke was coming out of the top floor. Damage was done to the third and fourth floor [because] the sprinklers activated,” said Brian Atkins, the public information officer at BFD in a statement.

Isabelle Clyde and Mckenzie Kotara, first-year graduate students at Massachusetts General Hospital and Northeastern respectively, are residents of the apartment adjacent to the fire; they called the fire department at around 2:00 p.m. when they heard their neighbor’s fire alarm ringing. It was not immediately clear whether the residents of the apartment where the fire started were home.

Clyde explained that firefighters attempted to access the affected apartment, but, presuming it was an issue with detectors, left to address an active fire on Massachusetts Avenue. BFD returned to 49 Symphony at 2:15 p.m. after they received an alert that the building’s hallway sprinklers had activated, Clyde said.

In a tweet at 2:41 p.m., BFD reported the fire to be under control. By 5:00 p.m., first and second floor residents were allowed back into the building.

Alpha Management, the real estate company that owns 49 Symphony Road, estimates that residents of the affected apartments can safely return home by Thursday, Clyde said. The majority of the building’s residents are current undergraduate or graduate students at Northeastern. 

Clyde evacuated the building, bringing only her cat, Poppy. Her roommate, Kotara, left just with an emergency water bottle, worried she would have to fight back flames. “There was a bit of chaos and people were yelling and there was smoke. It smelled so bad. I didn’t think to get much else,” Clyde said. 

The chaos extended to the entire building, where residents yelled through the halls and knocked on doors to alert others of the active fire. Nikhil Agarwal, a third-year mechanical engineering major, was among one of many that warned other residents, including 2021 Northeastern graduate Vicky Zeng. 

Like Clyde, Zeng evacuated only with her cat, Sammi. “I heard neighbors yelling in the hall, ‘FIRE! This is not a drill! Everybody needs to leave!’ [There was] a real sense of urgency,” Zeng said.

Residents crowded outside of the building for over an hour, their exposed legs and open-toed shoes a testament to the urgency of their evacuation. Onlookers captured pictures of the scene with their phones and watched as hose water and glass from broken window panes rained onto the street. By 3:15 p.m., residents were relocated to Speare Hall.

Clyde and Kotara, whose apartment wall was broken through to address the fire, are residing at a nearby Hilton among other displaced residents. The displaced are demanding hotel, food, rental and property reimbursement from Alpha Management.

“We are demanding the days we’re out be [taken] off [of our] rent, and that hotels and food be paid for. Once we’re back in the apartment, [Alpha Management] will straighten it out. They have been cooperative so far,” Clyde said. 

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.