EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 25, 2013

Fire forces elderly sisters from their home

By Yadira Betances

---- — LAWRENCE — Two elderly sisters escaped a fire at their 124 Weare St. home yesterday.

The fire started at 9:52 a.m. on the rear porch of the two-story house, Deputy Chief John McInnis said. The cause was under investigation, he said.

“It was tough to fight because it was so cold,” McInnis said. “The roof area had several additions put on over the years and we had to cut a hole in the roof for ventilation because the fire got into the attic area.”

Two firefighters were taken to the hospital, Ronald Lavallee for chest pains and Graham Millar, with a knee injury, Chief Jack Bergeron said.

Sisters Olga and Rosa Matos, who live on the first floor, were able to get out of the house thanks to the brothers of Johanna Largaespada, who cares for Olga Matos who is disabled.

The Matos sisters moved to Lawrence from Puerto Rico 13 years ago. They have lived on Weare Street for more than a year.

“I’m worried about losing my furniture, personal belongings and clothing,” said Rosa Matos as she caressed her dog, Moty. “But at least we’re fine.” The sisters will be staying with relatives.

Mayor William Lantigua stopped by the scene and talked with Rosa and Olga who were sitting in a van to keep warm.

“We’re very sorry that this happened, but we’re glad that there was no loss of life,” Lantigua said. “All the material things can be replaced.”

Bergeron said since the beginning of the year, there has been fires in crawl spaces and others have been caused by faulty wiring, fire in a waste paper basket, a space heater left on a chair and a pizza box left atop a stove.

The two firefighters injured yesterday brings the total to five fire fighters who are out due to injuries, Bergeron said. The department also has seven vacancies and one man in the Armed Service.