Firefighters face down dual emergencies as 3-decker ignites, leak spurs evacuation; Pizza ovens suspected as source of blaze.


Byline: Scott J. Croteau

WORCESTER - Firefighters were scrambling across the city yesterday as they dealt with a gas main break on Mill Street and a fire on Greenwood Street, both called in shortly after 10 a.m.

Firefighters rushed to 50 Greenwood St. about 10:05 a.m., when a barber called to report a fire in his building.

Joseph Boyce, owner of Village Barber Shop on the first floor of the three-story building, said he went to work around 9:15 a.m. and had begun giving a pony-tailed customer a layer cut when the fire alarms went off.

He rushed outside to Village Pizza, which is next door in the same building, and saw black smoke through the window-lined storefront.

Mr. Boyce ran to the side of the building on Halmstad Street and saw black smoke pouring out a vent for the pizza parlor's ovens. He then called 911.

The barber went back into his shop and told his customer about the blaze.

"I finished half the haircut and told him to come back tomorrow," Mr. Boyce said.

According to Fire Capt. William P. Metterville, an employee of the pizza parlor had gone into the restaurant before the fire and turned on the ovens. The employee then left. The fire is believed to have started in the ovens.

As firefighters ripped down a section of a first-floor wall, the fire reached to the second-floor, but flames did not reach the third floor, Capt. Metterville said.

The first and second floors were damaged by fire and water, but the third appeared to have only smoke damage. Six people live in four units and will not be able to go home tonight. Code enforcement officials will inspect the building, and the American Red Cross of Central Massachusetts was called to offer assistance to the residents.

No residents were injured in the two-alarm fire. A firefighter suffered burns to his upper back and was treated at the scene.

Firetrucks lined Greenwood Street, and traffic had to be diverted.

Meanwhile, a broken gas line...

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