“That had water,” Thompson said of the second hydrant, “but unfortunately, that had pressure problems.”
“All our resources were diverted to getting water to the main pump,” Potts said.
Police closed Paradise Road for several hours between Elmwood and Ellis roads as hoses snaked across the normally busy roadway, which carries Route 1A traffic. Crews also ran a line down Andrew Road to reach a hydrant at the far end of the street, which runs into Thomas, Farragut and Walker roads.
Firefighters also faced slippery ice created by pouring water on the fire, so extra manpower was called from surrounding communities, Thompson said.
In addition to Swampscott firefighters, crews from Salem, Revere, Nahant, Beverly, Marblehead and Lynn responded, along with Roger Baker’s Rehab Five unit to provide assistance.
The first crews that went into the building knocked down most of the fire on the first floor before being ordered out, Thompson said.
When they got back inside, the fire had spread throughout the second floor and the attic. The problem in older buildings is fire spreads through voids in the walls. The “old style” wood-frame house was built around 1910, according to records.
“We play catch-up trying to catch up with it,” Thompson said. The only area that did not burn was the cellar.
The second time Potts ordered firefighters out, he did so with repeated blasts of a horn. Flames could be seen shooting several feet in the air from the roof near the chimney, and black smoke blanketed the neighborhood.
At one point, a Lynn ladder truck turned on its water cannon mounted at the top of the ladder and accidentally sprayed onlookers. Firefighters re-entered the house as the cannon shot water down into the roof.
A resident who lives several doors down from the fire, Ralph Souppa, said he talked to the next-door neighbor, who discovered the fire. The neighbor knew the home had a dog inside.