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LYNN — Residents and neighbors watched from the street below as a heavy fire engulfed a triple-decker home on Elmwood Avenue Sunday afternoon.
Thirty-four residents have been displaced and a Lynn firefighter was treated at Salem Hospital with “fatigue-related injuries” sustained in the blaze, according to Lynn Fire Chief Stephen Archer, who said he expected the building would be a “total loss.”
Initially reported as a working fire shortly before 4 p.m., a second alarm was quickly struck by the Lynn Fire Department as crews encountered heavy smoke upon their arrival at 22 Elmwood Ave.
Archer said the fire appeared to have started on the second-floor porch, but that its origin and cause is still under investigation.
“We had heavy fire from the second floor extending up to the attic,” said Archer, who reported that all of the residents were able to get out of the three-story, six-family home safely, which is located across the street from St. Michael’s Hall.
By 4:15 p.m., Lynn Police had blocked off the street, and more than two dozen city firefighters were on scene and battling the flames.
Resident Michelle Tilton was sleeping in her room on the second floor of the building when she heard a fire alarm. At first she didn’t think much of it because the alarms sometimes go off when people cook. But then her roommates knocked on her door and reported there was a fire.
“I came out and the porch was on fire,” she said. “I was feeling like, oh (expletive), that’s really a fire.”
Tilton said she got out as soon as she could. There was not enough time to grab any of her things from her room, she said.
By 4:30 p.m. the flames had reappeared, rising through the roof and creeping out of the sides of the home. The second- and third-story porches were both blackened by the flames and several windows had shattered.
Light gray smoke could be seen from blocks away, billowing from the roof of the home and blending into the cloudy sky.
Neighbor Tracy Faulkner, who was watching the scene unfold, said she was walking her dog at around 3:55 p.m. when she noticed the flames.
“There were intense flames shooting out of the second-story porch and within seconds it had engulfed the third-story porch,” said Faulkner.
By 7:50 p.m., Archer said the department had made some progress knocking down the blaze, but that firefighters still had some work to do.
“The main body of fire has been knocked down and the fire’s under control,” said Archer. “They’re still on scene there wetting down some hot spots, and they’ll probably be there for a couple more hours.”
The fire was largely out by 7:54 p.m., added Fire Capt. Joseph Zukas, who said the building was a total loss, with damage including its roof caving into the third floor.
“There’s no roof on the building,” said Zukas, who anticipated there would be a fire department presence at the scene throughout the night.
The fire prompted a response from the entire Lynn department, which was assisted by an engine from the Saugus Fire Department. Responding firefighters had to deal with water pressure issues in the neighborhood, Zukas said.