EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 2, 2013

Nearly two dozen displaced by early a.m. fire

By Douglas Moser

---- — LAWRENCE — More than 20 people were displaced early yesterday after a fire raged under the roof of a three-story apartment building on Park Street, emergency officials said.

The three-alarm blaze at 45-47 Park St. left at least 22 people homeless, the Red Cross said, and substantially damaged the third-floor apartments. Fire Chief Jack Bergeron said the lower floors sustained water damage. The building was occupied when the fire broke out, he said.

Residents in one of the apartments were eating in the kitchen early yesterday morning and heard a noise in the ceiling, he said. They popped out a panel from the drop ceiling and found smoke and some flame.

“It was going pretty good throughout entire ceiling between the third floor and the roof,” Bergeron said.

Firefighters responded to a 2:16 a.m. call and put the fire out. Units from Methuen and Andover responded to the scene, while North Andover, Dracut and Lowell helped cover the city while Lawrence firefighters worked on the building.

Bergeron said firefighters were on scene until about 6 a.m. None of the residents were injured, but two firefighters were treated for minor issues by an ambulance crew on scene. No nearby buildings were damaged.

The cause of the blaze is undetermined, he said, though officials do not suspect “malicious intent.”

The chief estimated the number of displaced at between 14 and 15.

Kat Powers, communications director for the American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts, said in a statement early yesterday morning that Red Cross volunteers responded in the early morning and that 22 people were displaced.

There are six apartments in the building.

The Red Cross assisted two families with a total of eight people: two adults and two children in one unit, and three adults and one child in another.

“All 8 are accepting emergency shelter, which in this case is a hotel stay,” Powers said. Others stayed with family or friends.

The Red Cross provided emergency funds to cover coats and food for both families and infant supplies for one family, and provided other items, including blankets, comfort kits with toiletries, Mickey Mouse dolls for the children and a portable crib, Powers said.

Towards the end of the fire fight, someone parked a car in the middle of the road on a hose belonging to one of the fire trucks that responded to the scene — despite a No Parking sign and the obvious emergency situation. The firefighters were unable to pack up and leave until a tow truck was called to remove the car.

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