DOVER — As a steady rain fell Monday on the charred remains of two businesses and residential dwellings on West Blackwell Street, authorities continued to investigate a fire that drew a five-alarm response on Saturday and displaced dozens of occupants.
The smoky blaze was quickly extinguished, without serious injury to victims or responders.
But the heroic efforts required by the first two firefighters at the scene should serve as a “warning shot” to Dover officials that the Fire Department desperately needs more staff, acting Fire Chief Robert Sperry said in an interview.
“I was chief during the 2018 fire,” Sperry said, referring to another fire in downtown Dover that destroyed buildings and displaced up to 100 people. “What we talked about back then was we’d like to see four guys on a shift. Realistically we are about three to four short of that position. We’re still pushing for that.”
Saturday’s blaze came almost exactly a month after former Dover Fire Chief Jon Filosa resigned, in what he said was a protest of the “broken” promises by town officials to hire more firefighters.
Fire Capt. John Sperry, the acting chief’s brother, said initial indications are that the latest fire started on the second of two residential floors above 71, 73 and 75 West Blackwell St., where the Jai-Alai restaurant and a tattoo parlor are also located.