Tough blaze guts Peabody home
Tough blaze guts Peabody home
By JILL HARMACINSKI
PEABODY -- A relentless fire blew through a Lynnfield Street colonial yesterday afternoon, burning for close to two hours and destroying a home to 10 people, including three children and a handicapped person.
No injuries were reported in the 2 p.m. blaze, which backed up traffic for hours after police closed down a large section of Lynnfield Street.
Seven adults and three children who lived in the 2 1/2 story, single family home at 129 Lynnfield St. were left homeless by the fire, which likely broke out in the kitchen area, Peabody Fire Chief Steve Pasdon said.
The residents, with help from the North Shore Red Cross chapter, took shelter at the Marriott on Centennial Drive last night.
Firefighters said they were met by intense smoke and flames when they arrived at the 70-year-old home yesterday just after 2 p.m.
"When we got here, the house was fully engulfed," said Peabody Fire Capt. Tom Davis, a 35-year city firefighting veteran.
The fire quickly escalated throughout the entire home, its heat trapped inside by the light blue aluminum siding covering the building.
The home's wood-framed, balloon-style construction easily allowed fire to jet upward through the walls. The blaze bore a massive black hole in the home's roof.
Yesterday's fire, fought in 80-degree heat, destroyed the home, which, according to the city assessor's office, is owned by Earl Wolter. The property is assessed at $299,000, according to city records.
Investigators don't yet know what caused the blaze but believe the fire was burning for 10 to 15 minutes before they arrived. The fire remained under investigation last night by local police and firefighters and state police.
Yesterday afternoon, Davis said the fire escalated rapidly because firefighters "weren't notified sooner."
"Fire moves fast, but not that fast," Davis said. "This fire had been going for a while before we got called."
Neighbors reported hearing popping noises -- like firecrackers being fired off -- before the fire broke out.
"I went to let my dog outside and I heard boom, boom and then I saw flames coming from the back door," said Dorothy Gallant, who lives next door at 127 Lynnfield St. "It sounded like an explosion."
Michael Parker, who lives near the home on Travis Way, smelled smoke and walked outside his house to investigate. Fire was licking at the home's roof, firing off flames at least 10 feet tall, he said.
Beth Brenner was sunbathing at her home on nearby Alexandra Street. She also smelled smoke and when she looked over toward Lynnfield Street she "saw lots of smoke and flames shooting out the windows."
Neighbors said a number of young people lived in the home. Yesterday, a resident of the home, Amanda Orozco, sat crying on the curb across the street from the burning home. Dressed in a green Northeast Nursery polo shirt and khakis, Orozco, 22, spoke briefly with an insurance adjustor but declined comment for this story.
"It's not a good situation," said a young man standing with her.
City census records from 2002 list the names of three people who live in the home; Orozco, Mary Savoie, 37, and Kenneth Wolter, 20.
Neighbors said "numerous" young people in their late teens and early 20s lived in the home, along with a baby and a handicapped man.
Peabody Mayor Michael Bonfanti also arrived at the fire scene yesterday afternoon, briefly speaking with neighbors, patrolmen and firefighters. Bonfanti said "services were in place" to help the fire victims find shelter last night.
Staff reporter Sean Corcoran contributed to this article.