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Fire Rips Through Salem Street Home

Officials believe the Sunday afternoon blaze was accidental; no injuries reported.

No injuries were reported after a three-alarm blaze engulfed a Salem Street residence Sunday afternoon.  

Just after 2 p.m. on Sunday, the Salem Fire Department received several calls alerting officials to a fire at 27 Salem St.

Earlier in the afternoon, neighbors said they smelled something burning, but were unable to identify the source of the smell, according to the Fire Department.

School Committee member Janet Crane, who lives in the neighborhood, described a "blast and really black smoke" that filled the area.

"I didn't know where it was coming from," she said.  When she came out to investigate, Crane said she saw pieces of wallpaper in the air. "It just happened really fast," she explained.

Deputy Fire Chief Brian Harrington said he arrived on scene just after a member of the Salem Police Department. 

"There were people outside yelling that there were people in the building," Harrington said. "We went up the back [of the house] kicking in doors and we didn't find anyone." According to Harrington, "there was a language barrier" between residents and officials on the scene. 

According to Harrington, the intersection at Salem and Dow streets was so smoky that engines came to a halt to ensure they wouldn't hit vehicles or people.

Flames were concentrated toward the back of the multi-family, wood-framed structure. 

Harrington said the third alarm triggered by the fire was caused by "exposure"  at the adjoining residence.

At a certain point, Harrington said it "got too smoky…[and] we had to bail out."

There was also a "flashover" in the building after emergency personnel arrived on scene.  Just before the flash, Harrington said a unit working on the blaze had a line that "got kinked."

When he saw the flash, Harrington said he was "fearful" firefighters were in harm's way. In the end, the deputy fire chief said responders were "kind of lucky" the hose tangled, since it delayed their progress into the fire just before the flashover.

Overall, Harrington said the fire "looked pretty intense," but was "pretty much confined... It got knocked down pretty quickly," he added. 

Harrington said firefighters on scene "did an awesome job."

At this point, Harrington said the incident "looks to be accidental."

According to the deputy fire chief, there don't appear to be any injuries among firefighters. Though one woman was transported to the hospital, officials said they believe she may have become overcome by emotion after she returned from church to find her home ablaze.

Approximately two hours after the incident, Crane said, "I'm still feeling the smoke in my lungs."

Crane commended the Salem Fire Department for their work and said firefighters "were very quick."

Mutual aid came from Lynn, Beverly and Marblehead to assist in the effort to fight the fire. Lynnfield, Hamilton/Wenham and Danvers provided station coverage during the incident.

The Salem Street fire occured just 11 days after a fire in a neighboring building. On Sept. 1, emergency personnel responded to a closet fire at 42 Dow St.

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