, Salem, MA

November 26, 2013

Simultaneous house fires keep firefighters busy

By Neil H. Dempsey
Staff Writer

---- — MARBLEHEAD — Firefighters from multiple communities spent late Sunday night — the coldest night yet this season — battling two simultaneous house fires.

The first report of a blaze brought firefighters to 80 Naugus Ave. shortly before 2 a.m., according to fire Capt. Michael Porter and the police department’s incident log.

“Woman reported fire downstairs; she did not know what was on fire, said her husband was downstairs and they could evacuate,” wrote police in the log. An officer was first to arrive on scene and reported that the blaze in the 21/2-story wood frame building was “cooking good.”

The occupants of the house — a husband and wife — were able to safely extricate themselves from the building, taking their cats and dogs along with them. There were no injuries.

The first firefighters to arrive on scene were with Engine 2, led by Lt. Joe Thibodeau. Capt. Elizabeth Wilson assumed command when she arrived shortly thereafter.

Porter said the fire likely began when an ember from a wood-stove pipe on the exterior of the building landed in some nearby leaves. The fire spread up the side of the building and into the eaves and roof, hastened along by a steady wind from the nearby ocean, Porter said.

Firefighters started to attack the blaze from the inside. Porter said the most difficult part was extinguishing the fire in the eaves on the roof — though dealing with the ice wasn’t easy, either.

“Everything just turns to ice on nights like that,” he said.

The wind off the water also sped along spot fires in the backyard, and crews were on scene until 4:10 a.m. chasing after hot spots. The building sustained significant water and smoke damage, in addition to that created by the fire, but was not considered to be a total loss.

After watching firefighters battle the blaze from the warmth of their car, the husband and wife spent the night at a neighbor’s house.

Salem and Lynn firefighters reported to the scene of the fire, while Beverly, Nahant and Lynn provided station coverage.

Firefighters from Swampscott had been dispatched to the fire but were actually called back to their town at 2:15 a.m. for a blaze in a 21/2-story single-family house on Sheridan Road, said fire Capt. Graham Archer.

An engine from Lynn was first to arrive on scene of that fire, and Swampscott arrived shortly thereafter. A Revere ladder truck and a Peabody engine also responded to the scene, with station coverage provided by Middleton and Nahant.

There were no injuries, and the seven occupants of the building — a husband, wife, their children and an in-law — were able to get themselves out unharmed after hearing smoke detectors go off. They were offered shelter by a neighbor.

The fire originated in the area adjacent to the fireplace on the first floor and caused heavy damage to the first and second stories, Archer said. The building was not considered a total loss.

Crews were on scene until 5:15 a.m.

Local DPWs salted and sanded after crews had cleared the scenes of both fires.

In regard to the Marblehead blaze, Porter urged residents to make sure they had working smoke detectors and spark arrestors for their wood stoves, though the Naugus Avenue residence apparently had both.