, Salem, MA

May 6, 2013

Fire claims life of Salem man

By Jonathan Phelps
Staff writer

---- — SALEM — A 53-year-old Salem man was found dead on the second floor of 5 Beacon St. by firefighters who attempted to rescue him from a two-alarm blaze early yesterday morning.

Firefighters were called to the home at 3:32 a.m., where Michael Lyness, who owned the home and lived in the second-floor apartment, had “succumbed to his injuries at the fire scene,” according to the Salem Fire Department.

“Upon arrival, fire crews observed heavy fire from the windows on the second floor,” Salem fire Capt. Alan Dionne said.

Dionne said crews were immediately notified that a man was still in the building and entered the second floor under heavy smoke and fire to conduct a search. Lyness was found dead in the room where the fire is believed to have started, he said.

There were no working fire alarms on the second floor of the two-unit home, Dionne said.

A tenant on the first floor escaped the blaze, and there were no other reported injuries, Dionne said. According to fire officials, those were the only two people living in the two-unit home. Lyness bought the house in February 2000, according to city records.

“It was awful,” said next-door neighbor Catherine Harrison, who was awoken early yesterday morning by her granddaughter who heard the commotion from an open window.

“She heard some people screaming. They were running by yelling, ‘Call 911, call 911, there is a fire at 5 Beacon,’” she said. “The people who were yelling tried to get in the house, but it was really bad.”

Harrison said the Fire Department was at the scene immediately.

“They were trying to get him out, but they couldn’t get him,” she said.

Harrison and her husband, Bill, who have lived on the street for about 26 years, said yesterday afternoon that they will miss how friendly Lyness was.

“He was a good neighbor,” Bill Harrison said. “He always spoke to me, and I spoke to him. If his lawn mower wouldn’t start, I would lend him mine and he’d do the same.”

They would also lend each other tools and building materials, he said.

“He was the ideal neighbor,” Catherine Harrison said. “He was a nice guy, who minded his own business. He was friendly with his neighbors.”

Salem fire received mutual aid from Danvers and Swampscott at the fire scene, while Lynnfield, Nahant and Wenham covered the city’s fire stations.

There was heavy damage to the second floor and smoke and water damage to the first floor, and the home is uninhabitable, Dionne said.

The Red Cross assisted the first-floor resident with money for food and storage containers, a hotel stay, and toiletries, according to Kat Powers, communications director.

The fire remains under investigation by Salem police, Salem fire and the state fire marshal’s office.

Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.