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LYNN — Residents of a Whittier Street home that caught fire Friday afternoon were alerted to the danger by a neighbor, who ran inside the burning building to get everyone out safely.
Mohammed Alani, who lives across the street, was outside when a two-alarm fire broke out on the third floor porch of 46 Whittier St., at approximately 3:30 p.m.
Once firefighters arrived, the fire was quickly extinguished — in about 20 minutes — but the residents were able to make it out safely thanks to Alani, who saw the fire and ran into the building to get everyone out.
“I saw the fire when I was on the phone with my family, so I thought I need to go over there and get them out,” Alani said. “I was so nervous, but knew I couldn’t just sit around and watch.”
Alani banged on the doors of each floor, but said no one answered on the second or third floors. He went back downstairs to the first floor, where a mother and her two children were leaving, and called 911. Alani said he then ran back upstairs and banged on the second and third floor doors again, until he heard a response from the third floor apartment.
A man was asleep on the third floor and Alani yelled to him to get out because of the fire, which had engulfed the entire porch at that point. Alani said the fire started small in the corner of the porch, but he was so shocked to see how quickly it grew.
He said the man on the third floor was confused because he had just woken up, so Alani went into the apartment and kept saying “please get out, there is a fire” before the man saw it through his back door.
There was nobody home in the second floor apartment.
Lynn Fire Chief Stephen Archer said there is significant damage to the third floor and it is uninhabitable and will need extensive repairs. The cause of the fire is not yet known, but investigators were at the scene.
Archer said the department signaled a second-alarm because of the size of the building and the congestion in the area, sending six engines and three ladder trucks.
Deputy Chief Arthur Richard said there was heavy fire on arrival and this is the kind of fire that, if it had happened late at night, then it would have burned through the building since no one would have seen it, leaving the residents homeless.
Danielle Sawyer also lives across the street and said she saw the fire when she let her dog out on her third floor porch, but her dog ran right back in when she saw the fire.
Firefighters were seen on the roof of the home and on the third floor porch inspecting the affected areas.
Richard said firefighters always go to the roof to drill holes to release some of the heat, but they contained this fire quickly and didn’t need to drill any holes in the roof.
Archer said it was a fantastic stop by the fire department that prevented a situation that could have been much worse.
“It’s a really tight street so it’s tough getting the apparatus in here and positioning it so everyone can do their work,” Archer said. “They did a great job positioning and got up there very quickly to knock this down.”
Archer said they are inspecting the building to check for water and smoke damage.
Allysha Dunnigan can be reached at email@example.com.