EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 12, 2013

Collapsed roof forces evacuation of Inman Street apartment building

By Paul Tennant

---- — Lawrence — Heavy snow from the weekend blizzard caused the partial collapse of the roof of an apartment building at 6 Inman St., forcing the evacuation of several dozen tenants.

No injuries were reported, firefighters said. The American Red Cross set up a temporary shelter at South Lawrence East Elementary School, but many of the tenants opted to stay with friends or relatives.

The roof collapse was reported to the Fire Department at 11:57 a.m. Sunday. Ladder 4 was dispatched to the scene and firefighters ordered a partial evacuation, according to Capt. Kevin Loughlin.

Fire Chief Jack Bergeron, Deputy Chief Brian Murphy and city building inspectors visited the property yesterday and determined that the entire building should be evacuated, Loughlin said.

“I heard the crash,” said Jorge Lora, 37, who rents apartment 20. The manager of the property, he explained, told him he had to leave. Last night at around 9, Lora, who works as an appliance repair technician, said he planned to look for a hotel room for himself and his two children.

Adam Rodriguez, another 6 Inman St. tenant, said he and his child were going to stay at the home of a friend. He said it might be two or three months before the roof is fixed.

Rodriguez said at least one apartment had water leaking into it from the damaged roof.

Fire Capt. James Loffredo was on Inman Street last night to supervise the evacuation. He said a firefighter would be posted there to make sure no one entered the building.

Over at South Lawrence East Elementary School, Deb Duxbury, manager of Red Cross operations in northeastern Massachusetts, was supervising preparations for the displaced tenants. None of them had arrived as of 9 p.m. Duxbury said they were probably still at 6 Inman St., retrieving clothing and medicine, or staying elsewhere.

The Red Cross expected to provide shelter to at least five families displaced from 6 Inman St., according to Ashley Studley, communications manager for the Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts.

“We’ll work with them one on one,” Duxbury said, on arranging for lengthier temporary shelter. Duxbury said the Red Cross was notified of the evacuation yesterday afternoon, at around 3 or 4.

The 6 Inman St. building, about 40 years old, is owned by Royal Park LLC. Three other buildings on Inman Street, Nos. 2, 4 and 8, are identically constructed and each has 30 apartments.

Loughlin said the firefighters and building inspectors checked the three other structures to make sure their roofs were not in danger of collapsing.

In addition to helping the tenants of 6 Inman St., the American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts is still sheltering residents after this weekend’s blizzard. The Red Cross has already provided more than 1,300 shelter stays to those affected by the storm – most of them forced out of their homes by power outages, Studley said.

As of Sunday evening, the Red Cross had provided 2,961 meals and 1,433 snacks in shelters on Cape Cod, the Islands, and the South Shore of Massachusetts, she added.