Multiple area fire departments responded Sunday evening to a massive blaze involving at least four buildings in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The fire chief says it was a challenging fire, in part because curious onlookers wouldn't move out of the way.
Lawrence Fire Chief Brian Moriarty said four multi-family homes on Bennington and Saratoga caught fire, at least one of which was completely destroyed in the 5-alarm blaze.
The Lawrence Police Department and numerous area fire departments responded to the scene to provide mutual aid across two blocks, including North Andover, Stoneham and Woburn.
One woman was injured and taken to a local hospital, Moriarty said. There was no immediate information on the extent of her injuries or her condition.
No firefighters were injured, and police said they had no reports of any missing people.
Moriarty said firefighters had a tough time battling the flames in part because of how close together everything is in the area, and the wind gusts. The fire chief also said that a large crowd of onlookers made it difficult for fire crews to access the homes.
"We had a lot of problems because one, the congested area. Two, the wind picked up and we had extremely heavy fire on arrival. And three, people wouldn't get out of our way. It was too interesting to come see a fire and they prevented us from getting in," Moriarty said.
NBC10 Boston meteorologist Chris Gloninger had said west northwest winds were gusting at 26 mph when the fire broke out shortly after 7 p.m., leading to exposure issues.
With the houses right next to each other, it doesn't take much for fire to spread from home to home, Gloninger said.
The Lawrence Police Department had asked people to not go near Saratoga Street, saying streets in the area are closed.
Shortly after the fire was reported, heavy flames and smoke could be seen coming from the area.
Later, aerial footage from NBC10 Boston's Sky Ranger helicopter showed flames shooting through the roofs of one of the homes, and smoke pouring out.
NBC10 Boston crews on scene said a section of one of the home's roofs had fallen in. With part of the roof gone, there was smoke everywhere, they said.
According to our crew, there was heavy damage visible to at least one home, but thick smoke was restricting visibility in the area.
The Red Cross of Massachusetts responded, as many families were displaced, but the agency did not immediately know exactly how many adults and children were without a home Sunday night.
Victims of the fire were asked to meet with Red Cross for assistance at the command center on Lawrence Street near Pollo Tipico (190 Lawrence Street) and Farrah Funeral Home (located at 133 Lawrence Street), according to the mayor's office.
The Red Cross will provide comfort, financial assistance and long-term recovery services.
Lawrence Mayor Kendrys Vasquez was on scene Sunday night, and noted the Easter holiday.
"There's a lot of uncertainty, especially on a day so special to many of our families," he said. "I think we still have to remain hopeful and understand that challenges are going to come across us but we have to stay strong. Lawrence has proven over and over again that we are a strong city and we will come out stronger after this incident."
The fire chief said it's too early to know what caused the fire, that will be part of their investigation.
Later Sunday night, a second fire broke out in Lawrence. The fire department confirmed there was a 2-alarm fire at a 3-story building located at 241 School Street. No other information on that fire was immediately available.