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Published on Mar 8, 2012
SCITUATE, MA - A large swift-moving fire with towering flames raged through four houses this afternoon on Humarock Beach in Scituate, apparently stoked by a strong wind
Smoke billowed in the air as hundreds of spectators watched firefighters from multiple towns fighting the blaze. Some neighbors hosed down their houses, wary of flying sparks. A local radio station provided live reports from the beach.
Scituate Police Chief Brian E. Stewart said no injuries were reported. Firefighters were still putting out hotspots, he said at about 3:30 p.m.
Video footage shot by the WHDH-TV helicopter appeared to show two of the buildings had been completely burned to the ground.
Dianna Tarmey, owner of one of the houses, said her home was where the fire began. She said her husband was upstairs when the fire alarm went off. He came down to find a fire in the kitchen, tried to extinguish it himself, then ran out of the house with the dog.
Twenty minutes later, she said, the house had burned to the ground.
"Folks have lived here forever. ... I'm thanking God it didn't happen at night," she said.
The beach has been whipped by offshore winds this afternoon. National Weather Service observers reported a gust of nearly 50 miles per hour there.
"It was beyond description," Roger Crawford, who owns Crawford Boat Building in Scituate, said. "It happened so fast. It was a matter of minutes and the houses were destroyed."
Crawford said he watched as the southwesterly winds helped spread the fire from one house to the next, where Marshfield Avenue runs into the beach.
"It's as if you had a pile of kindling, had newspapers underneath it, put gasoline on it, and threw a match at it," he said. "And then had 40-mile-an hour winds blowing on it. This thing had its own life."
Crawford said his boat building shop is a few hundred yards from the houses and he ran across to see what was happening. When he got there, he said, one house was fully engulfed in flames.
"When I saw it, the house had flames 100 feet high and the wind was forcing it," he said. "The house adjacent to it on the north side just exploded. It just burst from the heat. The flames didn't jump."
Streets near the fire were shut off and crowded with police cars and fire engines.
Ed Perry, owner and reporter for local radio station WATD-FM, is broadcasting live from Humarock Beach, interviewing local residents and providing descriptions of the struggle to extinguish the blaze. The station reported that an animal control officer said one pet was rescued from one of the burning homes. It wasn't immediately clear if that was the Tarmeys' dog. (BOSTON GLOBE)