EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

November 19, 2012

UPDATE: Nearly two-dozen forced out of homes after basement fire in 12-unit Andover condo last night

ANDOVER — Nearly two dozen people had to be evacuated from a garden-style condo complex late last night when a fire erupted in the bedroom of a basement unit at 8 Crescent Drive.

Andover Fire Deputy Kevin Connors said one person was rescued from a third-floor balcony and another had to be carried out of a second-floor apartment when thick smoke filled the building at around 11:30 p.m. Nobody was injured in the blaze.

He said four or five 911 calls came into the Department at approximately 11:40 p.m.

When firefighters arrived, they found heavy smoke pouring from the building and flames in a basement unit bedroom.

At first, firefighters fought the fire from the exterior of the 12-unit building while simultaneously doing a search and rescue operation of people inside the building.

"Once we got into the room we knocked it down quickly," he said. "Then it's just making sure it's ventilated. But there was also a search and rescue going on because we had confirmed reports of people in the building. We had our hands full. It was a tremendous effort by all hands involved."

All residents were accounted for and there were no reported injuries, Connors said.

The fire is under investigation by state fire inspectors and the cause is not known at this time, he said. Several people at the scene this morning said they thought one of the residents in the basement condominium had been carelessly disposed of a cigarette.

Property manager George 'Lee' Giurgio said 21 people lived in the building, including several children. He was escorting residents back into the building this morning but couldn't let anyone stay inside.

"People can get in to get their stuff, but they cannot move in for now," he said. "I need the Building Inspector to give me the OK."

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