LAWRENCE — Firefighters battled a heavy, four-alarm fire in the rectory of an Essex Street church Monday evening.
Fire Chief Brian Moriarty ordered an "exterior attack" only after arriving at 35 Essex St., where the fire in the rectory of Holy Rosary Church/Corpus Christi Parish broke out around 6:20 p.m.
By declaring an exterior attack, firefighters will not be allowed inside the building to fight the fire for safety reasons, per fire protocol.
Firefighters from numerous surrounding cities and towns, including Andover, North Andover, Lowell, Haverhill, Methuen, Danvers, Middleton and more were called into the city as mutual aid crews.
There was heavy fire in the rectory, with flames heading toward the church roof, according to radio transmissions.
There were no immediate reports of injuries from the scene.
A variety of inspectors were immediately called to the scene.
The church is the backbone of the annual Feast of the Three Saints in Lawrence.
This is a developing story. Check back at eagletribune.com for updates.
Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.