Three-Alarm Haverhill Fire Destroys Multifamily Home, Damages Three Others on Portland Street

Haverhill firefighters attack blaze on Portland Street. (Mike Jarvis photograph for WHAV News.)

There were no reported injuries, but 11 people are displaced after a windswept three-alarm fire Friday destroyed one multifamily building and damaged three others on Portland Street in Haverhill.

The destroyed home which, according to city records, may date back to the 1700s, and one other sat behind another home on the crowded street. Haverhill Fire Chief Robert M. O’Brien told WHAV the fire appears to have started around 10 a.m. outside the building, but the cause is still under investigation. He said there was debris and two cars nearby. He said an early report of an explosion may have been burned car tires.

“We were fortunate enough to keep the fire in check and it did not extend to more buildings,” the chief said.

He said two homes were only 10 feet apart. Engine 2 out the 16th Avenue fire station was the first to arrive and the blaze quickly escalated to three alarms, the chief said, because of wind and “how quickly it was jumping from building to building.” He said firefighters did an expert job in putting up a “water curtain” to contain the inferno.

O’Brien said the department called off-duty firefighters back to work, engaged Engine 9 from the Rocks Village call station and activated mutual aid. Salem, N.H.; Groveland; and Lawrence firefighters were on scene, while other departments came to Haverhill to cover fire stations.

Of the 11 individuals displaced, three were from the destroyed building and eight from the others. He speculated the front home could be reoccupied quickly when power is restored.

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