SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

February 26, 2013

Elderly residents displaced after late-night fire

SALEM — A two-alarm fire displaced residents of four apartments and caused significant damage at a Salem Housing Authority building late Sunday.

The fire broke out on the third floor of 27 Charter St. around 10:30 p.m. A resident pushed a burning chair out into a hall, which filled the hallway with smoke and set off fire alarms for the entire building, fire Chief David Cody said.

The building’s fire sprinklers activated and quickly doused the flames.

“(The fire) was in the furnishings more than the building itself,” Cody said. “The sprinklers in the building did the work of putting the fire out. ... It was a small fire but (caused) quite a bit of damage.”

The 12-story building, an elderly housing complex, was evacuated for several hours.

The man living in the apartment where the fire started was taken to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation, Cody said. No other injuries were reported.

The fire’s cause remains under investigation.

Residents of four apartments, roughly six people, were displaced by the fire. The Housing Authority arranged for them to stay with relatives or found other accommodations, Cody said.

Other residents were able to return to their apartments around 1:30 a.m.

The second and third floors were damaged by water, and the building’s elevators, fire alarm system and sprinklers were knocked out of order. Yesterday afternoon, the building’s fire systems had been fixed, but work continued on the elevators.

The building is owned by the Salem Housing Authority and has 110 apartments. The property is across Charter Street from the Peabody Essex Museum, near Hawthorne Boulevard.

Yesterday, Cody credited the Salem Housing Authority and Action Ambulance with handling the situation well and getting residents back into their apartments as soon as possible.

Three fire engines and a ladder truck responded to the fire, with Deputy Chief Brian Harrington in command at the scene.

A message left with the director’s office at the Salem Housing Authority was not returned before The Salem News’ deadline yesterday.

Bethany Bray can be reached at bbray@salemnews.com and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.

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