While a late-night fire Wednesday was “knocked down” quickly by Haverhill firefighters, 28 Washington Street residents were temporarily displaced.
Haverhill Fire Chief Robert M. O’Brien told WHAV the call started out as an investigation of a smoke alarm issue just after 11 p.m., but proceeded quickly to an all-out fire attack when residents saw a “haze or smoke” on the third floor. The crew of Engine 1 out of High Street station confirmed the presence of smoke upon arrival.
“Crews pulled open the walls and the ceiling and found fire actively burning in a crawl space. There is typically no direct access.” He added the initial crew fought the fire from below and the crew of Ladder 1 out of Water Street cut a hole in the roof.
There were no injuries, O’Brien said, but the building at 273 Washington St. is comprised of nine apartments and 28 residents—including many children. He added an initial investigation suggests the fire began in electrical wiring. The fire burned hot enough to begin burning completely through the building’s structure.
“Crews quickly knocked down the fire. It was a very good stop given the size of the house. Considering the heat and humidity, it would have been a difficult fire to fight if it had spread,” O’Brien said.
He said residents set a good example for others to follow. “When in doubt call the fire department.”
O’Brien said residents will be allowed to return after repairs are made. He noted electrical power was shut off and remains off because of fear of wet wires.