No Injuries in Nine-Alarm Salisbury Fire; Blaze Draws Mutual Aid From Area, Including Haverhill

The seaside blaze destroys motel and other buildings. (Mike Jarvis photograph for WHAV News.)

A wind-driven, nine-alarm fire in Salisbury destroyed five buildings overnight Monday, but no injuries were reported as of this afternoon.

The fire was first reported at 1:45 a.m. by a Massachusetts Department of Transportation employee who called 9-1-1 after seeing smoke and flames. More than 100 firefighters and about 30 apparatus from Salisbury and communities across Essex County, including Haverhill, and southern New Hampshire responded. Salisbury Fire Chief Scott Carrigan and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said four residential buildings and a motel are considered a total loss, and some nearby buildings were also damaged.

“Our top priority throughout the night was to protect the surrounding community from a large and growing fire that was being pushed toward other structures by high wind conditions,” said Carrigan. “I want to recognize the Salisbury firefighters who fought relentlessly against the threat that this fire posed to lives and property under extremely challenging weather conditions, as well as the many fire departments who provided mutual aid.”

It appears two occupants of the motel escaped safely and that some of the residences were unoccupied seasonal properties. More than two dozen people were displaced and are being assisted by the Red Cross of Massachusetts and Salvation Army.

“Exactly where and how the fire started are under investigation,” said Ostroskey. “What we do know is that this fire started, grew and spread in the middle of the night when most people were sleeping. This is why we urge everyone to be sure their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are present and working on every floor of every home. Whatever else you do today, check your smoke alarms. The cost of installing fresh batteries or replacing alarms that are more than 10 years old is a small price to pay compared to the damage we saw at this scene.”

Firefighters were assisted by the Department of Fire Services, which deployed specialized apparatus and personnel to support communications and firefighter health and safety during the ongoing incident, as well as the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, Cataldo Ambulance, the Boston Sparks Association and Rehab 5.

The origin and cause of the fire are being jointly investigated by the Salisbury Fire Department and the State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit assigned to the State Fire Marshal’s office.

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