EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

November 28, 2012

Three-alarm blaze destroys vacant apartment building

LAWRENCE – Fire broke out in a vacant three-story apartment house at 57 Springfield St. late last night, destroying the wood-frame building and exposing two adjacent buildings – including the the Ward 6 Social Club – to risk before firefighters knocked down the three-alarm blaze.

“Things went pretty well, considering the volume of the fire we had to deal with when we arrived on the scene,” Lawrence Fire Chief Jack Bergeron said.

“The biggest challenge was trying to protect the exposed buildings and the guys did an excellent job,” the chief said.

Bergeron estimated fire damage at more than $200,000 for the loss of the vacant building. The cause of the fire remained under investigation early today.

Firefighters and equipment from Andover, North Andover, Haverhill, Methuen and Tewksbury joined city firefighers at the scene. Crews from Danvers, North Reading, Reading and Wilmington provided station coverage throughout the city under a mutual aid agreement.

The first alarm sounded at about 10:30 p.m. and Bergeron said it took close to an hour for firefighters to knock down the fire.

“Because of the volume of the fire and the amount of damage, it’s going to be under investigation for some time,” Bergeron said.

“We had initial reports of people inside the building. The first crew did go in to the first and second floors, but didn’t find anybody. There was a good amount of fire already on the first floor when the first crews arrived,” he said.

Several families in the two adjacent buildings were evacuated as a precaution. There were no reports of injuries. Bergeron said he expected the families would be allowed to return home early today

“The fire was in a very congested area, which caused the fire department to go to major streets to get good hydrants,” Lawrence’s auxiliary police Chief Jay Jackson said. “They did an outstanding job of protecting the two occupied buildings that were exposed,” he said.

The volunteer auxiliary force of 12 blocked off all intersections from Park to South Union Street and from Salem to Market to provide access for fire trucks. At the peak of the fire, flames jetted out the front windows of the vacant building.

Fire investigators were called to the scene.

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