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May 7, 2014

BREAKING UPDATE: Woman carrying child jumps from burning Haverhill apartment building

HAVERHILL — A woman with a child in her arms jumped from the second floor of the burning Forest Acres apartment building today, officials said.

She is in serious condition in a local hospital, officials said. There was no information available about the condition of the child. Their names were not immediately available.

Police Deputy Chief Donald Thompson said the woman jumped from a balcony outside a second-story apartment in the rear of the burning building. He said that when police and firefighters arrived at the fire scene, they were directed to the woman by onlookers. The rescue workers carried the victims to an ambulance to be taken to a hospital, Thompson said.

News of the woman and child spread as the building fire was under control about 2:30 p.m. But then a series of windblown brush fires across several acres broke out nearby, forcing firefighters to scramble.

"This thing is getting out of control quickly,'' a firefighter said over the department scanner just before 3 p.m. today. "We need someone up here quickly.''

Fire officials said it appeared the brush fires dotted as many as seven acres. Firefighters were having trouble reaching the fires from the Forest Acres apartments property, so were trying to enter the brush land from near Cedardale Athletic Club. Police used ATVs to bring water to firefighters battling the brush fires.

According to reports on the Fire Department scanner, the brush fires stopped at a brook near Cedardale, but then began spreading to either side of the brook. The fires then began spreading back toward the Forest Acres apartments.  

Even though the building fire was under control, heavy smoke continued to pour out of it. Almost half of the upper part of the building was gutted and the roof had collapsed. Fire officials said a fire wall between two connected apartment buildings, plus aggressive work by firefighters, kept flames from spreading from the burning structure to the adjacent one.

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