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September 21, 2013

Fire displaces eight residents from city housing in Methuen

METHUEN — At least eight people were displaced after a two-alarm fire damaged eight apartments and cut power to another 16 in a city-owned senior and disabled housing complex off Pelham Street yesterday.

No residents were injured in a fire that started on the first floor and climbed up the rear exterior wall to the roof. Neighbors said the occupant of the apartment where the fire originated was not home at the time. A firefighter was taken to Lawrence General Hospital for heat exhaustion, deputy fire Chief Sean Nartiff said.

Salem, N.H., fire provided assistance on the scene, and Lawrence fire provided station coverage. Nartiff said the fire took about an hour and a half to put out.

“It was a tough fire to fight because of the way the building was built,” he said. “It’s from the ‘60s and has a lot of blown-in insulation. It was a tough fire to get to.”

The investigation is ongoing, but fire officials believe the fire started from carelessly disposed of smoking materials. The fire blew out a window and climbed up the rear wall. The roof was burning when firefighters arrived just before noon.

All residents and their pets were able to escape. Housing Authority director Ken Martin said the eight apartments in the building, number four at 75 Edgewood Ave., were damaged and another 16 were affected when power was cut to that part of the complex. The eight in the damaged apartments will have to be relocated, but are staying with family, he said.

“We’ll be working through the weekend and next week to accommodate them,” Martin said.

No damage estimate was available yesterday afternoon. Red Cross responded to the scene.

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