Seven families were sent out into just barely above freezing temperatures before 7 p.m. when a fan reportedly fell over and started a blaze at 113-115 Portland St.
Haverhill firefighters, with help from other towns; police, Trinity EMS ambulance and others were on the scene. No injuries were reported, but the American Red Cross is helping displaced residents.
Two units in the 1890-era building were severely damaged. Remaining units have smoke and water damage, according to Jorge Rivera, a maintenance foreman for the building owner. He told WHAV the building’s fire and smoke alarms gave residents plenty of notice to leave the building.
“The front right and the second-floor right. It started on the first floor, front window. Fan tipped over. We’re not sure how it caught fire, but they’re saying it tipped over and it lit up—he had rugs—so the rugs instantly lit the place up.”
Rivera said the landlord, Edison Forbes, has four local crews in the area and everyone came to assist. The crews maintain 27 buildings in Haverhill. “At this point, we’re just counting heads and making sure everyone is accounted for, including animals.”
He said he believes the two cats who lived in the building are also safe. Families were warmed inside vans provided by the Red Cross. Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini, in a social media post, said the city is opening the police station and Citizens Center while the Red Cross works to find the 15 residents overnight housing.
Stay with 97.9 WHAV FM for continuing developments.