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

(Continued)

“We just moved here a week ago and it looked like it was going to reach us,” Ballester said. “I evacuated my family out of the house. It was amazing how fast the fire was moving and how much damage it caused, even causing the siding on the houses across the street to melt.”

Masuk said the fire department did an “awesome job.”

“The firefighters were excellent,” he said. “They contained it to the one house and kept it from burning our house,” he said. Bergeron agreed.

“They did an excellent job, considering the circumstances they encountered when they got on the scene, to keep the fire from growing and spreading any more,” he said. “There is always the chance of the fire spreading to other buildings when you have a situation like we encountered. Thankfully, we had sufficient water to keep it to that one building, and minor damage to the building on the left.”

Despite the huge walls of fire that already engulfed the house by the time the first crews responded, the firefighters were able to conduct a quick search on the first and second floors to determine that everyone was out.

“The part of the building that’s still intact in the rear portion has a stairway you can walk up,” Bergeron said. “That’s where the crews went in. They were able to make entry into the first and second floor to make a quick search.”

Even without knowing the exact cause of Friday’s fire, Bergeron highlighted concerns about the potential hazards of overloading extension chords during the holiday season.

“Because of their small size, they can heat up like the wire inside of a toaster before they trip a circuit breaker or fuse,” the chief said. “People need to be extremely careful with extension cords, especially this time of year.”

The chief said the fire also generated concerns about having operational smoke detectors. It’s not clear whether the smoke detectors were working at 9 Lafayette Ave. Masuk was just happy he had his dog Bella to alert him to the fire next door. “We rescued her from an animal shelter and she rescued us last night,” he said.

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