, Salem, MA

February 20, 2014

Four-alarm fire leaves two homeless in Hamilton

By Terri Ogan
Staff Writer

---- — HAMILTON — A four-alarm fire tore through a single-family home on Bridge Street in South Hamilton yesterday afternoon, displacing the two adults who live there.

No injuries were reported, and the residents, Fred and Gay Hammond, were able to save their two cairn terriers, along with a few paintings.

Firefighters responded to 279 Bridge St. at 3:41 p.m. and found heavy fire in the basement and throughout the two-story home, said Hamilton fire Chief Philip Stevens. The flames eventually spread through the residence and broke through the roof of the house.

Stevens said smoke was coming out of the chimney, and fighting the blaze took an extended period of time, about five hours, because of the cold weather. In addition, Stevens said, the way the house was built allowed the flames to shoot right up through the walls.

Firefighters were pulled out of the home shortly after arriving due to unsafe conditions.

“It got to a point where it was getting dangerous,” Stevens said. “We needed heavier streams to fight from outside. Fire was in the walls.”

Pamela Scotti, 27, who lives next door to the now-destroyed home, said she saw smoke coming toward her house around 4 p.m., then saw fire trucks on the street.

Scotti said she rushed over, concerned for her neighbors.

“I grew up next door to them,” Scotti said. “I wanted to make sure they were OK and their two puppies were OK.”

The Hamilton Fire Department notified the American Red Cross Disaster Action Team’s dispatch center in Cambridge of the blaze, and members came to the scene to assist those displaced.

“This time of year, fires happen much too frequently,” said Steven Hatch, the Disaster Action Team’s supervisor. “With space heaters, fireplaces and things like that.”

Hatch added that depending on the situation, his team will find a hotel room for the displaced residents and put them up for a few nights.

The team also helps with other immediate needs. Those dislodged are sometimes issued a temporary credit card with an amount of money specific to their needs.

The house on Bridge Street, which was built in 1923 and valued at about $264,000 according to Assessors Online Database, was a “total loss,” Stevens said.

Stevens added that this was Hamilton’s fourth fire in two weeks.

The Hamilton Fire Department received mutual aid from Beverly, Boxford, Topsfield, Ipswich, Manchester, Essex and Danvers.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Terri Ogan can be reached at 978-338-2660, via email at or on Twitter @terriogan.