The Springfield Fire Department is trying to figure out exactly who or what caused a fire in a vacant Phoenix Street home.
Flames ripped through the three-family home in the city's Hungry Hill section.
"It was crazy. I could see it all the way from my house. My kids were like, 'Mom, the smoke.' I was like, 'Yeah, that's pretty bad,'" said Springfield resident Jennifer Quiles.
Thick smoke could be seen billowing into the sky.
The fire broke out around 4 p.m. Monday during the height of rush hour, causing crews to stop traffic on neighboring Liberty Street to lay down hoses.
The home has been empty for quite some time, though neighbors said they're not surprised this happened.
"I felt it was a matter of time. The house has been abandoned for years. We had a feeling something was going to happen," said Quiles.
The house sat sandwiched between another multifamily home and the International Auto Sales shop.
Tina Depregolo, the owner of the shop, was working inside when the fire started next door.
"I was scared. Yeah, I was because I had cars in the back, and I was afraid with the fire and the gas," said Depregolo.
Dennis Leger, aid to Springfield Fire Commissioner Joseph Conant, said frigid weather conditions and snow banks caused obstacles for firefighters to contain the blaze.
"It's slippery, and everybody just takes longer to get everything done. Hands and feet get cold, and everybody starts slowing down quite a bit," said Leger.
Officials said the fire is unusual because the home should have been empty.
"I would say it's suspicious and under investigation at this time. If there's no electricity, then there's no reason for it," said Leger.
The Springfield Arson and Bomb Squad is investigating. It's asking anyone with information to call its hotline at (413) 787-6370.
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