SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

January 3, 2014

Family, cat safe after 2-alarm fire in Salem

By Jonathan Phelps
Staff writer

---- — SALEM — Firefighters weren’t too far away when flames broke out at 2 Pierce Ave. yesterday afternoon.

A crew from Engine 1 was putting out a car fire near The Black Lobster restaurant on Bridge Street when reports came in of a fire at a nearby single-family home.

“Someone ran over and told them,” said fire Lt. Peter Schaeublin. “They just unhitched the hose from the hydrant and came over here.”

In the meantime, off-duty Salem firefighter Dan Saffer entered the building and found a woman and two children, 3 and 5 years old, still inside. They got out safely and went to a neighbor’s home, Schaeublin said.

“The whole house was fully involved when we arrived,” Schaeublin said. It took about an hour to knock down the fire and crews stayed attacking any hot spots.

He said the wind, snow and freezing temperatures created a challenge for the firefighters. Steady snow fell the entire time emergency personnel were on scene. “It was very windy,” Schaeublin said. There were concerns about the fire spreading to other homes and hose lines freezing, but Schaeublin said there were no water or hydrant issues.

No injuries were reported during the fire. Schaeublin said the cause is still under investigation.

Bridge Street was closed and traffic was diverted by police down the bypass and other surrounding side streets. The two-alarm fire called in crews from Beverly, Danvers, Marblehead and Peabody. Lynn and Swampscott fire departments provided station coverage.

Firefighters had to cut a hole in the roof from a ladder truck to ventilate the home while battling the fire. There was extensive damage to the second floor rear of the building, Schaeublin said.

Homeowner Tina Burbine stood across the street as smoke was still pouring out of the building. Her daughter and grandchildren were the ones home when the fire broke out.

“I was at work and a got a call that my house was on fire,” she said.

Burbine was worried about her cat, Buddy, but she found him safe in the basement after firefighters cleared the home.

The white two-story home was built around 1895, according to city assessors records.

The family of four will be unable to stay in the home. American Red Cross volunteers on the scene yesterday provided the family with emergency temporary shelter at a hotel, money for food, clothing, seasonal items and shoes, according to an email from the organization.

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