“The heavy fire was knocked down in 10 minutes,” Harrington said. “The fire was out completely within an hour.” There were no injuries to anyone.
With 33 years in the department, Harrington said he’s seen this type of blaze before.
“They have these little shrines where they burn candles at night. ... They usually set them up in the bedrooms. They do it every night,” he said. On a warm night with the breeze blowing, the drapes might come into contact with the flame, he said.
“This is probably the third or fourth major fire I’ve seen started this way,” he added.
Harrington estimated that the building suffered up to $100,000 in damage, although it’s likely it will be saved.
“The right side will have to be rebuilt,” he said.
Harrington worries, however, that in the building, there was a prematurely born infant with lung problems just released from the hospital.
“If the child had been above the fire (instead of on a lower floor), there might have been just enough smoke inhalation to compromise the lungs,” he said.
He praised the work of Engine Company 1 and 5 in “aggressively attacking” the blaze. Assistance was obtained from the Beverly, Marblehead and Lynn fire departments. Salem has been using a ladder truck borrowed from Danvers as theirs is under repair.
Staff writer Alan Burke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.