SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

December 23, 2011

Peabody firefighter dies fighting blaze

PEABODY — Peabody firefighter James Rice has died, a spokeswoman at Salem Hospital has confirmed.

Rice was responding to a two-alarm fire in a three-story apartment building on Hancock Street this afternoon.

Hector Galarza, a resident who lives on the second floor, said six families live in the building.

All of the families got out safely, Galarza said.

Lisa Jaber said she lost all of her possessions in the fire, including Christmas presents for her 8-year-old daughter, Jayla. Neither Jaber, who is nine months’ pregnant, nor her daughter were home at the time of the fire.

“I have a baby due in two weeks and we have no home, no clothes, no presents,” Jaber said. “We have no Christmas. We’re done.”

Hope Rivera said the power had gone out in the building and her sister-in-law, Annelly Guerrieo, flicked a fuse in the second-floor bedroom closet.

“The fuse blew and that’s when the fire started,” Rivera said.

Galarza said the bed caught fire and fled with his dog.

Salem Hospital spokeswoman Jean Graham confirmed Rice's death a short time ago. Rice was taken to the hospital from the scene of the fire.

This story will be updated.

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