Mass. Officers Hurt Saving Fire Victims

LYNN, Mass. --

Investigators are trying to determine what caused a raging blaze in Lynn two-family home Tuesday night that left three police officers injured after they rushed into a burning building to save the people trapped inside.

Seven people live in the house at 18 Clinton St., but only four were at home at the time the blaze broke out around 9:30 p.m.

Panicked neighbors alerted police to the two-alarm fire.

"The house next door to us is on fire," one woman said. "I don't know if anybody's in here at all. Oh my God," the caller said in a 911 call to police. "The smell is really bad."

Three Lynn police officers were the first to arrive on the scene and they heard screams from inside the house. Without masks or any kind of protective gear, they broke down the front door to try to rescue four residents who were trapped inside. They were pulled outside the house where firefighters gave them aid.

A 57-year-old man was taken to a Boston hospital with serious injuries.

"We took over and got the guy out into the street and started emergency first aid on him ... he's in stable but guarded condition right now," Lynn Fire Chief James McDonald said.

The three officers were treated at a Salem hospital for smoke inhalation and released. They were identified as David Galeazzi, Thomas Hazard and John Marr, all of Lynn.

Images: 7 Hurt In Raging Housefire

The flames were so intense that one officer told investigators he couldn't see a thing once he got inside.

The home was owned by Clifford Jones, the brother-in-law of the hospitalized resident.

Arson investigators were on scene overnight but it is not clear what started the fire, which began on the first floor of the building near the rear porch.

Fire officials said the house was full of materials that burn easily.

"For the lack of a better term, pack rat conditions in there. It's piled up to halfway up the floors. The basement is filled from the floor to the ceiling with combustible materials. Clothing, newspapers, everything you can think of, cardboard boxes. It's just a deep-seated fire and it's really stubborn to put out," McDonald said.

The building will likely be condemned and torn down, possibly within the day.

Two members of the same family were injured in a November 2002 fire on Friend Street in Lynn.

Copyright 2009 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.