SALEM — A late-morning residential fire on Boston Street Friday left seven people homeless.
But firefighters credit a police officer on a nearby detail and a man who was pumping gas down the street with getting the occupants out of the house safely.
According to a statement from the Fire Department, the house fire, at 155 Boston St., was first reported by 911 call around 11 a.m. The caller said smoke could be seen pouring from a nearby three-story building.
As firefighters were en route, a police officer working a nearby street detail reported that fire and smoke was showing from the second floor of 155 Boston St.
The first engine to arrive called in a working fire at 11:10 a.m., initiating the dispatch of two more pumper trucks to the scene.
Lt. Thomas Brophy and firefighters Jeffery Reyes and John Roth took a hose up the front stairs to the second floor, where they encountered heavy smoke and heat.
The two doors to the apartment were locked and had to be forced, but the first was blocked by a bed inside and the second by exercise equipment.
After forcing their way past the exercise gear, firefighters entered the kitchen where, with flames rolling over their heads, they encountered the main body of fire.
They were able to quickly knock down the flames with their hose, however, and they began to ventilate the building and search for possible extensions of the fire.
At the same time, other fire crews entered the house to provide backup and to search for people inside — there were initial reports of people possibly on the first and third floors.
Firefighters determined all occupants had escaped, thanks to the policeman working the detail down the street and a person pumping gas across the street, who are credited with waking the third-floor residents and helping them out of the building.
It was, as fire Capt. John Payne said, a “picture-perfect response,” with all firefighters on scene working to put out the blaze and stop the fire from spreading in the walls and ceiling.
The fire was deemed under control at approximately 11:37 a.m. Firefighters remained on scene until about 12:30 p.m., opening up walls and pulling down ceilings to make sure the fire was completely out.
The multifamily, built around 1900, is assessed at $267,600, according to city property records.
According to firefighter Richard Thomas, damages were estimated at more than $100,000.
Thomas said that the building is currently uninhabitable and seven people are believed to have been displaced by the extent of the fire, water and smoke damage.
The Red Cross was on scene to assist the displaced residents with temporary housing and other needs.
Thomas said the fire is under investigation by Capt. Michael Leonard of the Salem Fire Investigation Unit and, at this time, does not appear to be suspicious.