BEVERLY — Abrea Cuono and Cathleen Delany expected to spend their day photographing students at Endicott College.
Instead, the two photographers were a picture of relief after escaping a three-alarm fire at Beverly Garden Suites on Route 1A in North Beverly yesterday afternoon.
Cuono and Delany ran through thick, black smoke to flee the fire at the motel, where they were staying while in town to take senior portraits for the Endicott College yearbook.
Delany, who had been sleeping until she was awakened by Cuono, was still in her pajamas when she ran outside.
“We’re fine,” Cuono said as she stood wrapped in a blanket outside the motel. “Just a little shaken up.”
Fire officials said nobody was hurt in the blaze, which drew dozens of firefighters from surrounding communities.
Beverly fire Chief Paul Cotter said the fire started in a first-floor suite of the two-story motel and was most likely caused by plumbers using a torch to fix a pipe.
The workers had moved on to the next suite by the time the fire started. The fire traveled up the wall into the unit above, where Cuono and Delany were staying.
Cuono, who is from Philadelphia, said she was using her laptop computer when she saw smoke coming up through the kitchen floor. When she opened a cabinet, smoke poured out.
Cuono immediately woke up Delany, then ran downstairs to the motel manager’s office to report the fire. When she returned to her room, black smoke was billowing in the back.
“We had to run through the black to get out,” Cuono said.
Delany, who lives in New Jersey, had to be taken to an ambulance and given oxygen after taking in some of the black smoke. Neighbors loaned her a winter jacket, offered her tea and invited her into their homes to warm up.