EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


May 8, 2014

'A total inferno'

Woman, baby jump to safety as fire engulfs building


At 7 p.m., firefighters were still pouring water onto the burned-out section of the building. A river of water was rushing out of an exposed ground floor apartment and down Forest Acres Drive.

After the woman holding the baby jumped, all other tenants of the apartment building managed to get out safely and told a frightening tale of their homes going up in flames.

The fire broke out just after 1 p.m. in the 21-23 Forest Acres Drive building and soon attracted crowds of onlookers, including many tenants who escaped the burning building safely.

There are 20 apartments in the building, known as Building K, which is part of the larger Forest Acres apartments complex off Route 125 in the Bradford section of Haverhill, less than a mile from the North Andover line.

The complex has at least 19 buildings. The Forest Acres buildings have cedar shingles and wood framed roofs. Residents of Building K said the structure has 12 front-facing apartments (six on each side) and eight rear facing apartments (four on each side).

Tenants rush to escape flames

Residents said the fire moved so quickly and with so little notice that it forced them to abandon their apartments for their own safety. No one knew what sparked the blaze.

Amanda Feind, who lives in an apartment at the left side the building with her boyfriend, Matt Stamos, and their infant son, Liam, said they smelled smoke just after 1 p.m. while the baby was napping. She said that from her third-floor window she saw a man pull up in a sport utility vehicle and yell toward the building, “Everybody get out.’’ He was a Fire Department official.

Feind, 26, grabbed the baby and she and Stamos, 29, knocked on doors of other apartments. About 10 people ran out of the building and gathered in a crowd outside, she said. Feind said an elderly disabled man who uses an oxygen tank and lives in the apartment below hers was helped from the building by Trinity EMS ambulance company workers.

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