- Associated Press - Monday, October 17, 2011

BOSTON (AP) — Firefighters rescued at least 15 people, including a 6-year-old boy who was dropped from a third-floor window, from an explosion and six-alarm fire that tore through a large apartment building early Monday.

Police said they arrested a man who showed up at a hospital with burns and claimed he started the fire in the city’s Roxbury neighborhood. They did not identify him or release any information about a possible motive.

Ten people from the large, U-shaped building were taken to the hospital, most with smoke inhalation, and two firefighters and a police officer were treated for injuries believed to be minor.

Herbert and Judith Lamb were forced to drop their 6-year-old grandson from the window of their third-floor apartment into the arms of a waiting firefighter.

“Thank God I caught him. I’ve never had to do that before, and I hope I never have to do it again,” Boston Fire Lt. Glenn McGillivray told the Boston Globe. He said firefighters knew Mrs. Lamb wouldn’t be able to hold onto the child until more help arrived, so they told her to drop him. Then they used a ladder to rescue her.

Residents who escaped said they heard an explosion at about 1 a.m.

A short time later, a man showed up at Boston Medical Center with burns and said he started the fire, fire department spokesman Steve MacDonald told the Associated Press. It was not clear if he lived in the building or was visiting. He was arrested and charged with arson.

Mr. MacDonald said the windows and frame were blown out in one corner of the building and bricks littered the street. More than two dozen apartments were damaged or destroyed.

Firefighters said all residents were accounted for, though Mr. MacDonald said crews had not yet been able to enter the building.

About 160 firefighters were called to the scene, and they were still pouring water on the building several hours after the blaze started.

A temporary shelter was set up for residents displaced by the fire.

Mr. MacDonald could not immediately confirm initial media reports that the fire may have been started after a gas line to a stove was cut.

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