State police have been called in to investigate the cause of the fire. Red Cross workers were on the scene to find temporary housing for victims and provide other help.
After the woman holding the baby jumped, all other tenants of the Forest Acres apartment building managed to get out safely and told a frightening tale of their homes going up in flames.
Amanda Feind, who lives in the building with her boyfriend and infant son, said they smelled smoke just after 1 p.m. today while the baby was napping. She said from her third-floor window she saw a man pull up in a car and yell toward the building, "Everybody get out.'' He was a Fire Department official.
Feind grabbed her baby and she and her boyfriend knocked on doors of other apartments. About 10 people ran out of the building and gathered in a crowd outside, she said. She said a disabled man who uses an oxygen tank and lives in the apartment below hers was helped from the building by Trinity EMS ambulance company workers.
"I think everybody got out safely,'' Fiend said, as she watched firefighters from two ladder trucks pour water on the roof and walls of the building in an effort to keep flames from spreading. She said her three cats were still in her apartment.
By 2 p.m., the flames had ripped through so much of the upper floor of the building that the walls were gone and all that remained were the beams and roof.
There are about 20 apartments in the building, known as Building K, which is part of the larger Forest Acres complex off Route 125 in the Bradford section of Haverhill, less than a mile from the North Andover line.
The Forest Acres buildings are all three stories and covered on the outside with cedar shingles and wood framed roofs. Each building has six to eight apartment units.