Fitzgerald, 27, said that when he got outside, his neighbor Matt Stamos told him about his missing cats.
“I offered to help Matt go back in and get them but they (police) wouldn’t let us,” Fitzgerald said. “It was a super-fast moving fire and in a matter of minutes there were two floors engulfed in flames.”
Fitzgerald, along with Feind and Stamos, said she never heard any fire alarms go off, but did not know if the two sides of the building had fire alarm systems that were connected.
“I don’t know why there were no alarms, especially when you have something of this magnitude,” Fitzgerald said.
By 2 p.m., the flames had ripped through so much of the upper floors of the right side of the building that the walls were gone and all that remained were the beams and rapidly disintegrating sections of roof.
“Six years ago, I was living in an apartment in the side of the building that just caved in,” Fitzgerald said.
The burned building is on the road across from a strip mall just to the right of Academy Lanes plaza. Fire hoses that ran up Forest Acres Drive from Route 125 (South Main Street) prevented residents from driving along this stretch of driveway to either get to or leave their apartments.
Fire draws regional response
Firefighters from several area communities responded to the blaze.
The Lawrence Fire Department was sending mutual 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.
Heavy smoke which could be seen miles away in other communities.
By commuter time yesterday afternoon, northbound traffic on Route 125 was backed up at least a mile.
A woman who said she is employed by the owner of the Forest Acres apartments told a reporter the company had no comment last night.
Reporter Paul Tennant contributed to this story.