PEABODY — Residents and business owners affected by last week's apartment complex fire can now seek low-interest disaster loans to "get back on their feet," three federal legislators announced late yesterday.

Melissa Wagoner, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, said the loans were good news.

"This well-deserved assistance will help many more residents get back on their feet after this devastating fire last week," she said.

A press release did not specify the loan terms for victims of the fire at The Highlands at Dearborn, where more than 750 residents were displaced. Sen. John Kerry said, "The SBA deserves credit for responding to this incident so quickly, and I will work to ensure that everyone who has been affected by this fire gets the help they need to get back on their feet as soon as possible."

Gov. Deval Patrick requested disaster help from the Small Business Administration after the blaze destroyed one of the 18 buildings on the site, leaving 43 tenants without a home. The state found 27 apartments with major damage, 24 apartments with minor damage and one business with minor damage.

Congressman John Tierney of Salem said the loans could be critical to helping residents and local businesses recover from the fire.

When a plant in Danversport exploded, the SBA offered 33 loans totaling $1.8 million to residents and another eight loans totaling $2 million to businesses.

Residents and businesses affected by The Highlands fire will be able to apply at the Torigian Community Life Center at 79 Central St. in Peabody, which will open Tuesday. People can also get information and loan applications by calling 800-659-2955 or by e-mailing the agency at

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