Mass. Crews Contain Triple Decker Fire

Aug. 11--LAWRENCE -- City firefighters, aided by crews from 11 area communities, battled a stubborn electrical blaze in a congested city neighborhood for two hours early Monday morning.

Eleven people living on three floors of 81-83 Bromfield St. were left homeless by the 4-alarm fire. One firefighter suffered a minor shoulder injury and was treated at Lawrence General Hospital and released.

The American Red Cross is helping residents displaced by the blaze.

The fire in the wood-framed triple decker broke out at 1:42 a.m. When firefighters arrived, they found smoke and flames coming from a rear porch on the third floor, said Deputy Chief Brian Murphy.

Murphy said firefighters worked diligently over the next two hours to contain the fire to that building. A neighboring triple-decker was just four feet away.

"They did an excellent job holding it to that top floor and keeping the fire in the original building," Murphy said.

The fire was sparked by an electrical problem in the third floor area, he said.

Upon arrival, firefighters immediately checked to make sure all of the residents were out of the home safely. Five people lived on the first floor, one on the second, and five lived on the third floor, Murphy said.

"That's our main concern -- that everyone is out of the building. That makes it a little easier ... Now we can focus on the fire," he said.

As firefighters ran attack lines (hoses) up to the third floor of the burning home, others were attaching hoses to nearby hydrants, Murphy said.

Some eight fire engines and 4 ladder trucks responded to the fire. Meanwhile, two other engines and a ladder covered the central station on Lowell Street.

"We relied heavily on mutual aid at both the fire scene and to cover the remainder of the city," Murphy said. "The system works really well. It totally bails us out."

The fire stretched into the area between the ceiling and the roof of the home, forcing firefighters to pull down ceilings in every room and check for hot spots. When this happens, Murphy said there is always concern about the roof which can weaken and collapse.

The home, which is covered in aluminum siding, is owned by Yvette and Richard Singleton and is currently valued at $227,500, according to city assessing records.

Murphy said the home is currently "uninhabitable" and "significantly damaged." He estimated repair cost at $195,000.

Firefighters from Andover, North Andover, Methuen, Dracut, North Reading, Lowell and Tewksbury assisted Lawrence firefighters on Bromfield Street. Firefighters from Haverhill, Danvers, Reading and Wilmington covered headquarters, Murphy said.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.

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