PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Firefighters respond Christmas night to a fire at Washington Street and Swampscott Avenue in Peabody.
By LEAH DEARBORN
PEABODY — The cause of a three-alarm fire on Christmas night remains unclear.
The blaze, which began shortly after 8 p.m. at 168 Washington St., raged for about two hours.
Sharon Cameron, director of Health and Human Services in Peabody, said the mayor’s office is reaching out to help the displaced residents through the property owner to determine their needs.
Cameron said she was unaware of when or where any future fundraising efforts will take place or what will happen to the building itself. She said the Fire Department has set aside some gifts from a previous toy drive for families in need.
Ten people were displaced by the fire, said Red Cross spokesman Jeff Hall. The residents, totaling four families, include seven adults and three children.
Hall said the public can assist victims of the fire by donating to the Red Cross, which grants a stipend of $200-300 to fire victims.
The Red Cross does not set up individual fundraising efforts for each fire and makes its donations through a general pool, Hall said.
The 3,242 square-foot multi-use building is owned by Tracey and Peter Castrichini of Peabody, according to the City Assessor’s website.
“We have so many people helping us right now,” said Tracey Castrichini, who did not have a guess as to how the fire started. “I’m finding things out right now on a need-to-know basis.”
Tenant Mark Wishney said he first noticed smoke coming up from the lower floor of the building. He said no one was home in the upstairs apartments when the fire started.
“We figured out pretty fast to get out of there,” he said. “The smoke was so bad. We lost a lot of possessions, but we’re just thankful no one was hurt.”
Leah Dearborn can be reached at [email protected]