EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 19, 2013

Fire guts Prospect Hill home; family of 10 loses everything

LAWRENCE - Ten people were driven from their homes and two firefighters injured when a three-alarm blaze gutted a Berkeley Street home early this morning.

Heavy flames was billowing out the windows and attic of 70-72 Berkeley St. when firefighters arrived at 2:15 a.m. today. The 2 1/2-story, two-family home is located in the city's Prospect Hill neighborhood.

By 2:26 a.m., the fire was pushed to three alarms, pulling in mutual aid coverage from as far as Tewksbury and Dracut, fire officials said.

Firefighting efforts were hampered by an inadequate water supply, blamed on antiquated water mains and pipes in the area.

"In that part of the city, there is a not a whole lot of water volume," said Lawrence Fire Chief Jack Bergeron.

Crews initially made an interior attack in the home, but were forced outside due to the monstrous flames and heat. An aggressive "defensive" attack was immediately launched outside the home.

"The fire was too much and it got to be too dangerous," Bergeron said, explaining why firefighters were pulled outside.

The 10 people who lost their homes are all family members who lived on both floors of the two-story home. One resident was taken to a local hospital as a precaution, Lawrence Deputy Fire Chief Brian Murphy said.

Lawrence Firefighter Jose Ortiz suffered a knee injury battling the blaze. A Methuen fire lieutenant was also injured. Her name was not immediately available this morning. Both were taken to local hospitals for treatment, fire officials said.

The cause of the blaze remained under investigation this morning. Residents said they first saw fire in the ceiling in the space between the second floor and the attic, Bergeron said.

The fire gutted the home and destroyed its contents. The loss was estimated at $350,000, Murphy said.

In addition to Lawrence crews, firefighters from North Andover, Andover , Dracut, Methuen and Lowell battled the fire. Firefighters from North Reading, Haverhill, Tewksbury and Danvers covered the city during the blaze, Murphy said.

Check back to eagletribune.com for more on this story.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter under the screenname EagleTribJill.




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