EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

December 8, 2012

Artificial tree may have sparked blaze

Fire: One home destroyed, four others damaged; 17 homeless


“They were in a state of shock – like terror – from what they experienced,” Bergeron said. “But none sustained real injury as far as we know, nothing that caused any lasting injury.”

Officials were initially concerned about possible smoke inhalation, particularly for children whose faces were covered with soot and were coughing after leaving the burning building Friday night.

They were also worried about some of the residents who had to jump out of the building to escape. One woman was seen jumping from a second-floor window, McInnis said, while others leaped out of first-floor windows. Stephen Masuk, who lives with his wife and father at 5 Lafayette Ave., next door to the burned building, was back in his house yesterday despite the extensive melting to the siding of his house and damage to three windows, which will have to be replaced.

“I was sleeping when the dog started barking and woke my wife,” Masuk said. “She woke me up. I grabbed my father and we got out of the house. People were jumping out the first floor windows next door.”

Eleven people from 9 Lafayette Ave. were receiving emergency shelter at a local hotel and were provided emergency clothing – including winter coats – and funds for food, according to Kat Powers, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts. Six residents from 13-15 Lafayette Ave. decided to stay with friends yesterday. They were accepting emergency funds for food, Powers said.

“All occupants of these addresses (total of 17 persons at this time) have been given comfort kits, which includes toiletries like razors and toothbrushes,” Powers said.

“We will be following up with all 17 people to make sure they have what they need to start their recovery after this disaster, once everyone has had a good night’s sleep,” she said.

Alex Ballester, 41, who recently moved into the two-family home at 17-19 Lafayette, said he worried that the fire was going to reach his home after watching the damage it caused to the house next door at 13-15 Lafayette Ave.

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