EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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March 31, 2013

Three houses destroyed on Hancock Street; Malfunctioning hydrants hampered firefighting efforts


LAWRENCE — A fast-moving fire possibly started by a burning couch in a narrow alley left two homes in ashes and a third barely standing yesterday. Meanwhile, efforts to douse the blaze were hampered by non-working hydrants or hydrants with poor water pressure, firefighters and witnesses said.

Nobody was injured but one dog and a bird perished.

The fire started just after 4 p.m. when thick, black smoke could be seen billowing from 112 Hancock St., in the middle of the three houses that were destroyed.

Jessica Guzman, 17, said she was in her bedroom on the third floor of the single-family house with the window open.

“I looked out and saw that the couches in the backyard were on fire,” she said. She ran next door, to 108-110 Hancock St., to tell her friends about the fire, because she thought the fire was heading toward their house.

“My phone doesn’t work so I had to run over there,” she said. “I ran out of the house and into my friend’s house.”

There, she found Jose Roman, 21, who was visiting with his family at 108-110 Hancock St.

They got everyone out of that house and ran to 114-116 Hancock St., where Guzman’s brother lived.

Luis Rodriguez, 33, who owns both 112 Hancock and the two-family at 114-116 Hancock St., was inside asleep as the fire started raging outside.

At first, Guzman and Roman pounded on the door, but realized that Rodriguez wouldn’t wake up.

“He’s a heavy sleeper,” Guzman said.

“I kicked the door down,” Ramos said. “I busted the door in and told him there was a fire.”

Added Guzman: “He came out in a blanket. He didn’t have any clothes.”

When firefighters arrived, she said she tried to get them to go into her house to save her dog, a 6-year-old Chihuahua named Bongo. But firefighters told her it was too dangerous and the dog is believed to have died.

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