Three Malden Transportation employees were driving in a van on Bryant Street at about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday when they spotted heavy black smoke coming from a Harvard Street residence.
The residence turned out to be a three-family home at 101-104 Harvard St. with a daycare on the first floor with the owner inside, as well as seven sleeping children, according to Malden Deputy Fire Chief Leonard Dunn III.
One of the employees ran into the residence’s backyard where the fire was on the rear deck. Another then tried to extinguish the flames with a fire extinguisher, while the third started banging out the front door and eventually ushered everyone to safety.
One of the employees also called 911, as the fire was too large for the fire extinguisher.
“If not for the quick thinking employees of Malden Transportation, this could have been a tragedy as the children were sleeping at the time of the fire, which had gone unnoticed for some time,” Dunn said. “We believe had these three employees not acted when they did, the fire would of certainly entered the apartment where the daycare was located.”
The owner and the seven children were able to wait in a neighbor’s house until all of the children could be picked up.
The fire was contained to the rear deck, Dunn said. It remains under investigation by the Malden fire investigation unit but appears to be unintentional.
Twenty-one Malden firefighters responded with four engines and two ladder companies.Medford and Everett covered Malden’s empty stations.