The fire was first reported by Lt. Jim Archibald, an off-duty firefighter who lives nearby.
“His son told him he smelled smoke,” said Beverly Deputy Fire Chief Peter O’Connor. “As (Archibald) saw the smoke and started toward the area, he made the call to 911.”
Fire officials said the blaze was well underway by the time they arrived, which made it difficult to get under control.
“The garage was going when we got there,” said Petrosino. “It was running right up the side of the house.”
As the fire moved into the attic and eaves, firefighters attacked it from all sides. Several firefighters mounted a ladder and fought the blaze from on top of the house, cutting a hole in roof to vent the flames and smoke.
When a rear section of the home burst into flames, more firefighters climbed ladders and fought from the roof of a porch in back.
Petrosino praised the hard work of firefighters, who also responded from Danvers, Salem, Wenham and Manchester-by-the-Sea.
At one point, firefighters began removing what appeared to be antique furniture from the home, placing it on the front lawn not far from a pile of used Scott air-paks. The air-paks are used by firefighters to breathe in heavy smoke.
Shortly before 8 p.m., with the fire apparently out, two firefighters entered the garage with flashlights.
Around 8:30 p.m., the skies opened up and thundershowers drenched the charred scene.
Tom Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.