Teen Killed, Two Massachusetts Firefighters Injured in Blaze

Updated: 03-19-2007 02:54:23 PM

Courtesy of the Boston Herald

For the second time in three weeks, Boston University students are mourning after a fatal apartment fire. Yesterday's blaze killed a visiting friend and injured two firefighters, while leaving people homeless.

Derek Crowl, 19, of Elysburg, Pa., was found in front of a bedroom closet door after the fire broke out shortly before 6 a.m. in a third-story apartment at 49 St. Mary's St. in Brookline, authorities said.

"All he found was what he probably thought was the front door," said Brookline Fire Chief John D. Green. "Due to his unfamiliarity with the building, he became disoriented, we believe, and succumbed to smoke and heat."

Four other students in the apartment heard smoke alarms and managed to make their way though heavy smoke down to the first floor, where they realized Crowl was missing, said state Fire Marshal Stephen Coan. The four went back for him, Coan said, but were driven back by the fire.

Firefighters found cigarette butts on the apartment's back porch, he said, but the more likely cause of the blaze were embers from a charcoal grill the students had used during a party hours earlier on the wooden porch.

About 75 firefighters from Brookline, Boston, Cambridge and Newton managed to put out the four-alarm fire by 7:15 a.m., containing most of the damage to the top floor of the privately owned, three-story brick apartment house, despite heavy smoke and flames.

"Fire was rolling over their heads," Green said, "and the smoke was so thick, you couldn't see your own hands."

Brookline firefighter Kevin Mahoney was injured when he fell through the back porch to the first floor, the chief said. Both Mahoney and an unidentified Boston firefighter were treated at local hospitals and released.

Last month, two 21-year-old BU juniors, Rhiannon McCuish and Stephen Adelipour, were killed and a 22-year-old senior, Steven Boursiqout, was severely injured in a fire started by a candle only blocks away at 21 Aberdeen St.

Most of the students in the St. Mary's Street building were away for spring break, BU spokesman Colin Riley said.

"This is a terrible tragedy," Riley said. "We're going to reinforce the message that fire safety is everyone's responsibility, whether we live on or off campus."

Before on-campus students left for vacation, university officials gave them a checklist of precautions to take and warned them that their rooms would be checked.

Republished with permission of the Boston Herald.

Courtesy of the Boston Herald/Mike Adaskaveg
A firefighter watches over the smoldering decks in the rear of the apartment in Brookline where an early morning fire killed one.