“It’s a tough time right now,” he said by telephone. “We’re going to keep our faith in God. We’re thankful to everyone who has supported us. We are Adams strong.”
Adams said his mother and brother were able to escape the third floor with minor bruises, cuts, and burns. He said family friends who lived on the second floor also made it out safely.
His parents would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on March 27, Adams said. He is getting married on March 23 in Mexico and had planned a dual celebration with his parents. It would have been their first trip outside the United States, he said.
“We were looking forward to that, just enjoying life and being stress-free,” Adams said. “We can’t do that now.”
The deaths were the first fire fatalities of the year in Worcester, and 13 people were displaced from their homes, the fire department said in a statement Saturday. There were no other injuries.
Worcester officials continued to investigate the fire on Saturday, which had also spread to another three-decker home.
Firefighters were called shortly before 7:30 p.m. to a home at 11 Jaques Ave., but the fire is believed to have originated in a house next door, officials said.
Investigators believe the fast-moving fire had started in either the basement or first floor of a three-story home at 13 Jaques Ave. By the time firefighters arrived, flames were burning through both buildings and had trapped several residents, the department said.
Woodrow Adams Sr. was brought to UMass Memorial Medical Center-University Campus with serious skeletal and burn injuries. He was flown to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on Saturday morning, his son said.
Crews knocked down flames that burned on the buildings’ exteriors before going inside, the statement said. While the interior fire of 11 Jaques Ave. was swiftly controlled, the blaze next door continued to burn.
The fire sent roaring flames into the cold night air. Conditions quickly deteriorated and a fifth alarm was struck. Dozens of on- and off-duty firefighters responded and “valiantly fought” the raging blaze in difficult conditions, the statement said.
The building was evacuated, and “a defensive operation was put in place,” the statement said. Investigators from the state fire marshal’s office, State Police, and Worcester district attorney’s office also responded.
Once the 13 Jaques Ave. fire was under control, firefighters entered the building and found two residents in the first-floor apartment who were dead.
Williams, who would have turned 86 on Feb. 26, lived on the first floor with her son, Adams said.
His grandmother was “a pillar of the community and our family,” said Adams, 38, a court officer at Worcester District Court who grew up in the home across the street from Chandler Elementary School.
“She had a way of treating everyone special,” he said. “She was well-respected in the neighborhood. She’d help those in need, strangers coming by who we didn’t know, she’d invite them in, feed them, and then they’d go on their way. She was a queen.”
Adams, who now lives in Southbridge, created a GoFundMe page to help his family recover from this tragedy. The fund had already received more than $70,000 in donations by late Saturday night.
His uncle Jerry suffered a stroke more than 15 years ago and was paralyzed on one side of his body, limiting his mobility. He loved watching basketball on TV and football on Sundays, his nephew said.
Woodrow Adams Sr., his son said, was “a provider and a humble, respectful man” who loved to play darts and shoot pool with his friends.
“He never raised his voice at anybody,” Adams said. “He was so cool, calm and collected. He taught us to be men, to treat women with respect. He was just a positive figure in my life.”
“I’d go to the house on holidays and we’d joke and laugh,” he continued. “I loved that man. To hear that the fire was so hot and he had to jump from the third floor, there’s no words for it. We question things often, but God has a plan. He’s in a better place now.”