LYNN — One woman was badly burned and 28 people were left homeless after a four-alarm fire ripped through a Broad Street apartment building on Monday afternoon.
The woman, a third-floor resident, had to be rescued from the 18-unit building and was taken by ambulance to Massachusetts General Hospital with burn injuries. The extent of her injuries was not immediately known, Lynn Fire Chief James McDonald said.
Firefighters arrived at 26 Broad St. around 3:40 p.m., and quickly called for a second, and then third alarm as they began to fight the fire. A fourth alarm was struck later as flames shot through the roof and firefighters were ordered out of the building.
By early evening, the fire had burned through the top floor as companies continued to fight the flames outside. It took about three hours for the fire to be declared under control, according to Lynn District Fire Chief Stephen Archer.
“Once (the fire) gained the cockloft, the attic space, it was off to the races,” Archer said during an interview with WHDH-TV. “It’s just very difficult to play catch up.”
McDonald said the building will be a total loss and it was in danger of collapsing while crews fought to get the fire under control. He said the call came in for a blaze on the third floor, but the point of origin and cause was unclear.
A Red Cross bus and medical tent was stationed nearby. Units from several communities, including Marblehead, Revere, Saugus, Swampscott, Melrose, and Chelsea came to Lynn’s aid.
Mayor Thomas M. McGee called the fire a tragedy and said the city was working with the Red Cross to help displaced residents.
A temporary shelter was set up at Lynn Police Station. Archer said Red Cross would be providing assistance for 28 displaced residents.
Bruce Conway, a third-floor resident, said he was sitting in his apartment when he started smelling smoke. He said he thought it might have been the exhaust from outside at first, but then he heard a neighbor banging on another door.
Conway, 60, said he and a neighbor knocked until the woman inside that apartment came to the door covered in soot. He saw a big cloud of smoke come from the kitchen. He said the woman relayed that she had fallen asleep while cooking.
“It was scary,” said Conway, who lives with his fiancée and her son. “The only thing I could think of was running back to my apartment and telling them we have to get out.”
Conway said he knocked on numerous doors to alert other neighbors as he was leaving the building. He said his plan is to talk to Red Cross and possibly take advantage of their shelter for the night, but as for a more long-term solution, his family might move in with his sister in New Hampshire.
“I am upset because we lost everything,” Conway said, explaining that he doesn’t have renters’ insurance. “We don’t know where we’re going to go. We’re just glad we all got out safe.”
Linda Edetsberger was standing outside her Broad Street residence as the fire raged across the street hours after it first broke out. She said she went to walk across the street to a nearby store to get milk and water — she smelled smoke and then suddenly lifted her head and saw the fire.
“It’s just very sad,” said Ariana Rivera, who also lives on Broad Street.
The fire came after an extended cold snap. McDonald said he couldn’t imagine how different things would be if the fire came a day earlier in below freezing temperatures.
The building, which is described as having a brick/stone foundation with a wood frame, was built in 1860 and is assessed at $846,000. The total value of the property, which is owned by 26 Broad St. LLC, is assessed at $1.53 million, according to online records.
Bridget Turcotte contributed to this report.