LAWRENCE — A four-alarm fire burned for hours at an old mill building complex last night, filling the air with billowing smoke and injuring two firefighters.

Fire Chief Jack Bergeron said the fire started on the roof of the brick building at 65 Manchester St. at 5:16 p.m. yesterday.

"We've got it confined to one area, the problem is it's burning between multiple layers of roofing," he said at 7:30 p.m.

Deputy Chief Brian Murphy said fire crews were still fighting the fire at 10 p.m., five hours later.

"Our fire investigators are on the scene trying to determine what caused the fire," he said.

No one was in the building when the fire started, but Bergeron said two firefighters were injured. The extent of their injuries was unknown last night.

Firefighter Danilo Soberon staggered out of the building, grimacing in pain while EMS tended to him.

"I got hit by the hose nozzle," he said. He did not appear to be seriously injured.

Lawrence police closed down Manchester Street and part of Broadway for hours, diverting traffic away from the fire while smoke billowed out of the old mill buildings.

Bergeron said the fire affected an area covering three businesses, including United Linen Supply at 65 Manchester St., La Fruteria at 75 Manchester St. and Delaware Valley linen company at 500 Broadway.

Firefighters mentioned concerns about flammable chemicals from the businesses.

The Environmental Protection Agency has responded to oil spills and hazardous material spills at the same Manchester Street complex several times in the last decade.

There have been a number of fires at old mills in Lawrence, including the December 1995 fire on the 29-acre Malden Mills property that injured 27 people and put thousands out of work.

The fire on Manchester Street did not spread past the original building complex and no area residents were evacuated.

Ten mutual aid communities assisted with the fire on Manchester Street, including North Andover, Andover, Dracut, Methuen, Haverhill, North Reading, Lowell, Amesbury, Wilmington and Salem, N.H.

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