BY TOM DALTON
---- — SALEM — A smoke alarm sounded early yesterday morning at 1 Beach Ave., a family homestead in Salem Willows at the water’s edge.
“We saw a little smoke coming from the basement,” said Dan Hentosh, 45, who went to explore the cause of the alarm in his family’s house.
When he descended the cellar stairs, Hentosh said he could see a “red glow” coming from the back of the basement. Then he saw flames going up a wall.
Dan Hentosh and five other family members fled the burning house with two dogs, the pugs Abby and Molly. There were no injuries.
Before the three-alarm fire was brought under control, the house was heavily damaged, according to a fire official.
The six-room, vinyl-sided house, built around 1890, is owned by John and Maureen Hentosh, according to city records. The property is assessed for $505,000.
The house, which has a wrap-around porch with expansive harbor views, is located in Juniper Point, a community of former summer homes now occupied year-round.
Salem firefighters responded at 8:39 a.m. after getting a 911 call.
The fire in the tightly packed seaside neighborhood quickly went to three alarms, drawing aid from Lynn, Marblehead, Swampscott and Beverly.
The blaze was under control by 10 a.m., although firefighters continued to extinguish hot spots for the next hour or more.
First on the scene was Inspector Paul Gallant of the Fire Prevention office, located less than a mile away. When he arrived, flames were coming out a cellar window and lapping against a house next door, according to Deputy Chief Glen Beaudet.
Firefighters put one hose into a cellar window and a second line on the neighbor’s house, fearing the fire could spread, Beaudet said.
Firefighters climbed to the top of the house and cut holes in the roof, while others entered the first floor and basement.
A floor in the living room partially collapsed, and there was heavy damage to the basement and first floor, a fire official said.
The cause of the fire has not been determined.
The fire may have traveled up a chimney chase (the structure through which a chimney pipe is run) in the center of the house, Beaudet said.
The fire is being investigated by Lts. Tim Flynn and Mike Leonard.
The American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts was on the scene, offering the family clothing and other assistance. A local inn put the family up for the night.
The house was once the home of Mrs. Hentosh’s parents, who operated the former Irving Taxi.
Tom Dalton can be reached at email@example.com.