LYNN, MASS. (WHDH) - The improper disposal of smoking materials was most likely the cause of the fire at a home in Lynn, said Lynn Fire Chief Stephen Archer and State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey.
“This fire began outside the building and grew significantly before smoke alarms inside detected it,” said Archer. “This is a scenario we see too often when cigarettes and other materials are discarded unsafely from outdoor stairways, porches, and balconies. If you smoke, or if you have guests who do, please – use a deep, sturdy ashtray with water or sand and put it out, all the way, every time.”
Crews were called to the home on Allerton Street just after 5:20 p.m., where footage from Sky7 showed large sections of the multi-story building’s roof engulfed in flames.
The fire quickly escalated to a second alarm and firefighters reported low water pressure, which hindered the response. At one point, Lynn Fire pulled their crews from the building, as both the roof and attic showed signs they were going to collapse. Concerns were heightened further by a tall chimney stack swaying as the building burned. Officials said the building sustained “catastrophic damage” before firefighters brought the fire under control.
“We were very nervous about the chimney because the chimney looked like it was leaning to one side,” said Deputy Chief Michael McBride. “So we were nervous that was going to come down, so we started pulling. As soon as the roof came down, we started pulling our guys out because it was too dangerous to fight the fire inside.”
One firefighter was treated at the scene for heat exhaustion, according to McBride.
“It’s difficult when it’s hot – obviously with the gear that we have on, it makes it a lot more hotter,” McBride added. “Guys get exhausted faster and we have to rotate crews more.”
By 6:30 p.m., after spraying down the roof, firefighters were able to extinguish the bulk of the flames at what appeared to be a double-decker home.
McBride said, at first glance, when crews first arrived, it appeared as though the fire may have started in the back of the home’s first floor.
Two families reportedly lived at the home, which is now considered a total loss by officials. 7NEWS learned only one family was home at the time of the fire and was able to escape. At least nine people are displaced by the fire and two were treated for minor injuries.
The investigation conducted by the Lynn Fire Department and the State Police Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit assigned to the State Fire Marshal’s office determined that the fire began at the left rear of the building, then spread upward along the outside of the structure and into the attic.
“The improper disposal of smoking materials is a leading cause of fatal fires in Massachusetts and the nation,” said Ostroskey. “Fortunately, this fire caused only minor injuries, but nine people lost their home. If it had happened a few hours later, the tragedy might have been devastating.”
Archer and Ostroskey remind residents that most of Massachusetts remains in critical drought status, meaning that outdoor fires will start, grow and spread more easily.
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