A smoker's careless disposal of a cigarette or something similar caused an Allston fire last weekend that killed a Boston University student in an overcrowded and illegal home, Boston Fire Department investigators have concluded.
The Sunday fire at 87 Linden St. started in a stairway that had been blocked off on the first floor, but was open on the second floor, the fire department said Thursday. Investigators made the determination based on witness interviews, burn patterns, physical evidence and other factors.
BU senior Binland Lee, 22, died in the three-alarm blaze that broke out about 6:30 a.m. She was found dead in the attic by firefighters. The fire injured 15 people including six firefighters and two BU students.
The city's Inspecial Services Department on Tuesday cited the owner of the building, Anna Belokurova, for having an illegal basement apartment in the home and for overcrowding. City and BU officials said 19 people were living in the two-family home, including nine BU students.
Bryan Glascock, the city's ISD commissioner, told Metro Tuesday that the central stairway of the home, where fire officials determined the fire started, was blocked off and that a lot of debris and items had accumulated there.
While city officials said the home had not been inspected in about 20 years, partly because of an old ordinance that relied on the landlords to call the city for re-inspections, the owner's lawyer said in a statement Wednesday that the building had passed inspection "many times" in the past 10 years.
"First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and BU community who were affected by this tragedy, and we would like to thank the firefighters who responded and worked swiftly to contain the fire," Belokurova's lawyer, Frank Fragomeni Jr., said in a statement. "The safety of Anna Belokurova’s tenants has always been her top priority. I have been informed that she had in place 2 leases for the 2 units, one for 7 people and another for 5 people and was proactive in safeguarding the property. The property has also passed inspection many times in the ten years she has owned it. We will continue to provide full cooperation to all agencies, authorities and investigators until the cause of this tragedy is determined."
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