Updated: Fire Destroys Riverside Home, Vehicles; No Injuries

Tanya King photograph. Story updated to include comments from Interim Fire Chief John E. Parow.

There were no injuries in the aftermath of a fire that destroyed a Riverside home Thursday afternoon, but its three occupants are homeless.

Evelyn D. Sullivan.

Evelyn D. Sullivan.

The 150 Riverside Ave., single-family home, had been the home of an 86-year-old woman who died three weeks ago, and whose family had difficulties with her gravesite at Greenwood Cemetery. Michael Sullivan, son of Evelyn D. Sullivan, was taking a nap when he was awakened by the odor of something burning.

“I was upstairs taking a nap and I smelled something burning—smelled like rubber burning, so I went downstairs and the whole bottom stairs, whole downstairs was full of smoke,” he said. Sullivan, who lived in the house his entire life with brothers Gary and Tim, said he managed to escape, but was unable to salvage any belongings.

The fire broke out around 2:30 p.m. and also destroyed a pickup truck and camper that were parked near the home, said Haverhill Police Captain Robert P. Pistone. “The fire was extinguished by Haverhill Fire, and the cause of fire is under investigation by the Haverhill Fire and Police Departments,” he added.

Contrary to other media reports, no vehicle crashed into the home prior to the fire.

Interim Haverhill Fire Chief John E. Parow told WHAV Friday investigators are looking at a “possible electrical issue in a first floor bedroom” as the origin. An electrical inspector will also visit the scene as part of the investigation.

Sullivan Can’t Wait for 2015 to End

It has been a difficult year for the Sullivan family. When the family matriarch passed away July, family members said they had trouble using her preferred gravesite at Greenwood Cemetery, believing a tree had overgrown the family plot. The burial eventually took place as planned when Judith Kimball, cemetery trustee, identified an adjacent area that could be used.

“This year’s got to end. It’s been a bad year. I had a tumor removed two weeks before she (Evelyn) went into the hospital, then she died, then the house. I said, ‘It’s been three bad things going on with me and I don’t know what the hell is going on,’” Sullivan told WHAV.

Additional coverage during WHAV’s Friday newscasts.

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