Mass. Four-Alarmer Kills Two Civilians, Injures Firefighters

Residents said they never heard smoke detectors or fire alarms go off, only calls for help.

LOWELL, Mass. --

Two people were killed early Sunday morning in a four-alarm fire at an apartment building in Lowell, fire officials said.

"We opened the windows and started screaming 'help, help get us out,'" said resident Alyssa Tortola.

The fire, which broke out around 4 a.m. at Second and Bridge streets, also injured six people, including two firefighters.

"The first company came on the scene and there was really no indication of a fire," said Lowell Fire Chief Edward Pitta. "They were starting to go inside the building to check what may have caused the alarms and then all of a sudden the conditions worsened very, very quickly."

Residents said they never heard smoke detectors or fire alarms go off, only calls for help.

"I saw people on the fourth floor above us screaming to get help," said resident Melanie Sanchez. "They gave us a ladder to climb out. And I was scared we weren't even going to make it out but we did."

Firefighters rescued nine people from the burning building. Two firefighters suffered smoke inhalation and hurt their backs trying to rescue one man who died from one of the upper floors.

The body of another man was found later in the day.

A resident who was injured was said to be in critical condition after he jumped from the fourth floor of the building. He was taken by helicopter to a Boston hospital.

Fire officials said they believed the blaze started in the rear of the building on the fourth floor. The cause had yet to be determined.

Authorities said the building was in danger of collapsing. It would be demolished as soon as investigators were finished collecting evidence.

The Red Cross was assisting 16 residents with places to stay.

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