EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 12, 2014

1-alarm Lawrence fire displaces up to 17 families

By Mark E. Vogler
mvogler@eagletribune.com

---- — LAWRENCE — Tenants occupying up to 17 units in a three-floor, brick condominium building were displaced — at least for one day — after a late afternoon fire broke out in a second-floor apartment at 12 Acton St.

Lawrence fire fighters extinguished the blaze quickly and contained much of the fire damage to one unit.

But the city wouldn’t allow any of the tenants back in last night, based the building inspector’s assessment that several safety issues needed to be addressed, according to Acting Deputy Fire Chief Jack Meaney.

“I think it was the building inspector’s best intention to displace them for the night,” Meaney said, noting that the fire alarm system was not operating and several doors inside needed to be repaired. There was also considerable smoke damage on the second floor and some water damage on the first floor.

“The men did an excellent job in knocking it down and containing the damage. One of the apartment units was completed gutted,” he said.

Meaney estimated the fire damage at more than $200,000, which included personal property that was destroyed in the building.

Volunteers from the Red Cross opened an emergency shelter at the Arlington School, at 150 Arlington St., last night for six people from three families displaced by the fire, according to spokeswoman Ashley Studley.

No information was available late last night on the total number of people who received some kind of assistance from the Red Cross.

“At one point, they were planning on sending eight to 15 families to the shelter,” Meaney said. Apparently, some of the people who were displaced found a place to stay last night with family or friends.

If the work is done to repair the fire alarm system, doors and other issues identified yesterday by inspector Lawrence Hester, most of the tenants may be able to return to their units, according to Meaney.

The cause of yesterday’s fire remained under investigation last night. Acton Street is a short side street off of Broadway, a short distance north of Haverhill Street.