By 2 p.m., the flames had ripped through so much of the upper floor of the building that the walls were gone and all that remained were the beams and roof.
There are about 20 apartments in the building, known as Building K, which is part of the larger Forest Acres complex off Route 125 in the Bradford section of Haverhill, less than a mile from the North Andover line.
The Forest Acres buildings are all three stories and covered on the outside with cedar shingles and wood framed roofs. Each building has six to eight apartment units.
The burning building is on the road across from the strip mall just to the right of Academy Lanes plaza.
Firefighters from several area communities responded to the blaze.
The Lawrence Fire Department was sending mutal aid to Haverhill. Ladder trucks were being sent to the scene from the Georgetown Fire Department and Salem, N.H. Firefighters from Haverhill's Rocks Village volunteer station were being called in as well. The Merrimac department sent a pumper truck and Amesbury firefighters also responded.
Several firefighters from those communities were sent to cover Haverhill fire stations.
Callers to the paper reported heavy smoke which could be seen miles away in other communities.
More coming as the story develops.