Mass. Firefighters Escape Flashover Conditions

Two firefighters escaped down a ladder through a window as flashover conditions became evident at a four-alarm fire in Lowell.  

Lowell Fire Department units were already fighting a working fire on Pleasant Street on Jan. 24 when another structure fire was called in.

First arriving companies found heavy smoke and fire coming from the basement of an eight-unit U-shaped apartment building. A second alarm was immediately called due to lack of manpower because of the other fire in the city.

Multiple lines were stretched to the basement in an attempt to knock the fire down. Crews opened up wall on the floors above the fire but could not stop the fire from extending. The worsening conditions forced command to call for more help. A third alarm was struck.

Heavy smoke began to pour from the upper floors and the fire began to consume the building. As fire broke out of the windows in the rear of the building, crews were ordered to evacuate.

Two firefighters were forced to make a quick escape when the room that they were working in began to flash over. The two managed to escape with only minor burns.

A fourth alarm was stuck as the attack turned defensive. Three ladder pipes and multiple big lines were put into operation from the exterior. The fire continued to burn on the top floor and eventually through the roof.

The freezing weather did not make it easy for crews fighting the fire and created numerous problems. The heavy fire was knocked down after about an hour of exterior operations. Companies remained on scene for hours extinguishing hot spots and overhauling. 

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