EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 19, 2012

Basement fire causes heavy damage to North Andover home

By Paul Tennant

---- — NORTH ANDOVER — A basement fire caused thousands of dollars worth of damage to a wooden single-family house at 11 Bixby Ave. early last night.

There were no injuries, but the house is uninhabitable, firefighters said. The cause of the fire is being investigated by firefighter Jeffrey Crosby.

Robert Stephenson, who resides in the house with wife Deborah, said he did not want to talk about the fire last night.

“There’s a lot going on,” he said. Firefighters said the Stephensons were staying with family members.

The fire was reported at around 5 p.m. Engine 1, with Lt. John Weir and firefighter Scott Swiniarski, was the first to arrive. Weir said they encountered “significant fire and smoke” in the basement.

The situation was complicated by the lack of an outside entrance into the basement, so they had to go in by the inside stairs, he said. Firefighters broke the basement windows to let the smoke and intense heat escape, Weir explained.

Engine 2 and Ladder 1 arrived shortly later. The fire was under control within 10 to 15 minutes, Weir said, and fire damage to the first floor was minimal. Smoke damage, however, was considerable, he said.

Weir estimated the total amount of damage at around $50,000. The house may be as much as a century old, he said.

Firefighters had to open up some of the walls to stop the flames that had traveled to the first floor, he said.

A hydrant diagonally across the street from the Stephensons’ home provided water for all three firetrucks. Andover firefighters provided coverage at the Central Station on Main Street while local crews were on Bixby Avenue.