Fire Destroys Storied Haverhill Victorian Home; Property Once Used to Store Vintage Fire Trucks

Engine 9 is housed at the Rocks Village fire station. (Courtesy photograph.)

Four families were displaced, but no injuries were reported in a two-alarm fire that destroyed a Victorian-era home last night near downtown Haverhill.

Haverhill Fire Chief William F. Laliberty said a rear shed fire was first reported at 8 Vine St. by a tenant at 6:39. However, he said, “heavy fire” had already spread to the home by the time firefighters arrived. The chief said the outcome could have been very different if the fire had broken out late at night.

“We’re grateful this was a fire in the daytime. An alert tenant called us to the fire scene. If everyone had been sleeping, this could have been tragic,” he said.

Laliberty praised firefighters, saying they did an “excellent, professional job,” especially protecting adjacent homes within a few feet. “It was very hectic, but great outcome because of all of their efforts.”

The home, built in 1890, is valued by the city at $419,000. It was formerly owned late Police Capt. Timothy Donovan and, later, his son Patrolman Timothy Donovan. The younger Donovan told WHAV this morning his father originally used the barn behind the house to repair cabs when he owned Town Taxi until 1965. Later, he used it to store vintage fire trucks he collected and later donated to the Fire Fighting Museum. The main house at that time was a 13-unit rooming house. At another time in its history, it was a funeral home, Donovan said.

Assisting Haverhill Fire at the scene were fire departments from Salem, N.H.; Methuen, Lawrence; and Groveland. Station coverage was provided by Georgetown, Merrimac, Plaistow and North Andover. Haverhill’s pair of 33-year-old Hahn fire trucks—the subject of much debate lately during city budget talks, were called into service on the second alarm. One of the trucks—Engine 8 based in Ayers Village, supplied water. Both are now scheduled to be replaced.

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