SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

May 19, 2014

Fire displaces more than a dozen

Peabody blaze leaves eight-unit building uninhabitable

By Alan Burke
Staff Writer

---- — PEABODY — A two-alarm fire yesterday morning left up to two dozen people homeless.

The fire was contained mostly in a single apartment of an eight-unit, two-story complex on 45 North Shore Drive, near the Northshore Mall, but it caused significant damage to a structure that is wood framed beneath a brick facade.

“It’s uninhabitable,” said Deputy fire Chief Richard Nelson. “The fire burned right through the roof. ... It was a major fire.”

One Peabody firefighter was briefly hospitalized with smoke inhalation. “But he’s already been sent home,” Nelson said.

Nineteen Peabody firefighters worked the blaze, which was called in at 10 a.m. They were joined by three colleagues from Salem and three from Lynn. The department went into “attack mode,” an aggressive strategy for battling the fire. It involved sending two teams with hoses inside the building to pour water onto the flames.

Nelson estimated that the fire was “knocked down” within 45 minutes, although firefighters remained on the scene for hours afterward to ensure that it stayed extinguished. The fire marshal and Peabody Fire Department investigators remained for some time after that. While he wouldn’t give a cause of the fire, Nelson said, “It’s not suspicious.”

Water damage in the burning second-floor rear apartment and the apartment below it was substantial. The rest of the building sustained substantial smoke damage.

Nelson determined that between 18 and 24 people lived in the complex. By yesterday afternoon, the Red Cross was trying to make arrangements for up to 10 people with no place to go. Others made their own arrangements. Damage to personal property within the building possibly was limited.

“I allowed people to go in and get some essentials,” Nelson said.

Alan Burke can be reached at aburke@salemnews.com.