EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 29, 2013

Woman dies in fire


“I could see black smoke coming out of the upstairs windows and they weren’t open,” DeManche said.

DeManche said the front door of the home was open and the boy, who told her he’d left it open, walked in and tried to walk up to the second floor, believing his mother might be upstairs.

“He could not get upstairs because there was just too much smoke,” DeManche said. “I assume she (the boy’s mother) was there as the boy opened the garage door and the car was there.”

“I yelled out, ‘Hello, hello!’” DeManche said. “Just then the fire trucks arrived.”

DeManche said she, along with other neighbors who arrived at scene, were ordered to stay back while firefighters entered the home. She said that at one point firefighters broke one of the second floor windows and began pushing articles of clothing out of it.

“I really don’t know the lady,” DeManche said about the boy’s mother.

Neighbors seemed equally in the dark about the family living at 41 Brickett Hill. Some said a woman lived there with her teenage son while others said a teenage girl lived there as well.

Don Talbot, 72, who lives several units away, said it is a rental unit and that various people have lived there over the years.

“I’ve lived here 27 years and have never seen a fire here,” Talbot said about the complex, which has 234 townhouse units.

Yesterday afternoon, Donna Smith of Haverhill arrived at the scene and spoke to fire officials. Smith told The Eagle-Tribune that she runs a house cleaning and pet service business and that the woman who lives at No. 41 is a client who has two cats that she cares for. Smith said that after the fire broke out, a teenage boy who lives there called her and asked her to check on the cats and possibly take them into her care. Smith said that because she was not related to the family, authorities would not tell her what had happened.

“They will probably have to spend the night at a veterinarian,” Smith said about the cats, who she believed were safe. “They’re pretty spooked right now.”

A short time later, a Haverhill animal control officer was seen leaving the condo with two small animal carrying crates.

According to Coan’s office, yesterday’s fire in Haverhill was the eighth Massachusetts fire death so far in 2013, in seven fires.

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