A New Zealander is one of more than 100 students to have been displaced by a devastating apartment fire in Boston, in the United States.

Christchurch's Lydia Fay, 18, moved into a Fenway apartment to attend Berklee College of Music in the state of Massachusetts at the start of the fall semester.

On Saturday, the five-storey apartment next to her dorm caught ablaze.

The fire started on the second-storey and tore up the building until flames spilled onto the rooftop.


"I was in my room when it happened and I could hear sirens," Fay said.

The weather was atrocious outside and the smell of smoke was growing, she said.

Everybody left the building when the smoke alarms started going off, she said.

It was only then that they saw the "black smoke pouring out" of the other building and heard the glass shattering.

"It was really scary, we had no idea what was going on," Fay said.

"We didn't know what to do. We were just standing there in shock."

Lydia Fay was one of 131 students who were living in the Berklee residence hall at 98 Hemenway Street. Photo / Supplied
Lydia Fay was one of 131 students who were living in the Berklee residence hall at 98 Hemenway Street. Photo / Supplied

Fay watched on in the rain as at least 100 firefighters battled the blaze on Hemenway St.

Fay said some of the firefighters were yelling that people were trapped in the building.


About 10 people were taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation, with American media also reporting that a fire-fighter was treated for minor cuts.

Thankfully nobody was seriously injured in the blaze, Fay said.

"The building was still burning five hours later, so we really had no idea if anything would be left," Fay said.

It was completely destroyed, she said, the roof had caved in and all the floors are burnt.

"There is nothing left."

The students in Fay's dorm would be allowed back into their water-damaged building today to grab a week's worth of items, she said.

Fay said that since the fire everyone had been incredibly kind, looking out for each other and it had brought everyone closer together.

"The students who were not affected have been really good," she said.

"They have donated clothes and it has been really nice.

"My RAs have been amazing for sorting everything out for all of us."

The Berklee College of Music has issued an emergency alert on its website about the displacement.

"Though the fire was confined to 104 Hemenway, an apartment building where 38 of our students live, there was also substantial damage to the Berklee residence hall at 98 Hemenway, which houses 131 students, and 108 Hemenway, an apartment building with 17 Berklee student residents," the website reads.

"While this is a time of great loss for many in our community, we are grateful that there have been no reports of serious injuries at this time.

"Student Affairs and Public Safety are working closely to support affected students and have ensured that all students in need of short-term housing have accommodations on campus or in local hotels."

Fay said the evacuation had brought back memories of the Christchurch Earthquakes, of taking cover under an office desk during the February 2011 quake and of an evacuation onto a school field.

"I knew the Christchurch earthquakes had affected me in the long-term but until now I hadn't realised how much. I was in so much shock," she said.

The former Hagley College pupil is pursuing studies in music production and engineering as well as songwriting.