Stubborn Fire Destroys Mass. Apartments, Day Care

Aug. 03--LAWRENCE -- Firefighters spent hours knocking down a blaze that destroyed the multifamily home at 20-22 Durham St. on Saturday.

At least nine people were left homeless after the fire got into the walls and ultimately consumed all three floors and remained burning in the attic into the late afternoon.

"It was getting ahead of us," deputy fire chief Dan Kennedy said. "It's a hot, humid day and the guys were taking a beating."

A 911 call came in to Lawrence police at 1:54 p.m. reporting a kitchen fire on the building's first floor, Kennedy said. Firefighters struck a second alarm when they responded, triggering mutual aid on scene from Andover, Dracut and Lowell. The fire was raised to three alarms at about 3:30 p.m., when interim fire Chief John Marsh called for all of the firefighters to leave the building.

When firefighters were ordered out, heavy smoke poured from the upstairs windows and eaves, and some flames were visible coming through the building's roof.

"The challenge is the heat and the fire on all three floors," Kennedy said, as firefighters on a ladder sprayed water onto the building's roof. "Ninety minutes is a long time to be inside a building on fire. We knocked down a lot inside, but now it's too much ahead of us."

North Andover and Methuen provided station coverage while a Tewksbury ladder truck covered the city. No injuries were reported.

Deputy chief Kennedy said no one was inside the building when firefighters responded. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Copyright 2014 - The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.