ANDOVER — Renee Manning said he was in his condominium in Building 9 of Crescent View Drive when he heard someone yelling.
He looked across a narrow courtyard separating his building from Building 8 and saw smoke pouring out of the neighboring structure. Then he saw a woman on a third-level balcony.
“The woman came out yelling, ‘Help! Help!’” said Manning. “She was in her mid-70s. Then she went back inside. Everyone called for her to come back out.”
Thick, black smoke that smelled like burning rubber or an electrical fire was billowing out of the mostly brick building just before midnight late Sunday night.
Firefighters then set up a ladder and climbed up to rescue the woman from the balcony.
One other woman was rescued from her second-floor apartment as thick smoke filled the hallway. She was taken from the scene by ambulance, but was not seriously injured, according to Fire Chief Michael Mansfield.
In all, 21 people, including a number of children, were evacuated from the garden-style condominium building late Sunday night and early Monday morning when a fire erupted in the bedroom of a basement unit.
Andover Fire Deputy Kevin Connors said several 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.”