One person died and two others were hospitalized with serious injuries following a massive fire in Lowell, Massachusetts, Wednesday, the state fire marshal's office confirmed.
More than 40 people, including at least a dozen children, had to evacuate overnight after the blaze broke out at 98 Westford St. and spread to two nearby buildings.
Crews battled the three-alarm fire in freezing temperatures for hours early Wednesday morning. Firefighters from surrounding communities were called to douse the flames at the apartment building about 3:13 a.m., authorities said.
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NBC10 Boston's exclusive Weather Underground stations in Lowell showed temperatures were around 15 degrees while crews were on scene.
The person who died was identified by prosecutors Wednesday evening as a 77-year-old man who lived in the building. They didn't give the man's name, pending identification to his family.
Two people, a man and a woman, were flown to Boston hospitals with serious injuries, Middlesex County prosecutors said.
The first patient was being taken to Massachusetts General Hospital and the second to Brigham and Women's Hospital, according to the emergency response organization. There was no immediate update on their conditions.
"Right now, all we can do is confirm that there has been a fatality. the fd did an excellent job making rescues or there most likely would have been more of them," fire Chief Phil Charron said.
Fire officials were also able to rescue a dog from the home.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. A crane was brought in later Wednesday to bring the building down.
Red Cross Massachusetts was helping around 44 displaced residents, including 13 children, find a place to stay. The Red Cross says the fire affected three structures. The home it originated in, 98/100 Westford Street; the building next-door, which is 102-110 Westford; and 12 Royal Street, which is the building behind the structure on fire.
Two women, Daphne Lopez and Alyssa Andrews, were inside the building when the fire broke out.
They dialed 911 when they saw all the smoke and flames and then ran up and down the apartment building to wake up the other residents. Around 25 people who live in the building all came out the front door, according to the women.
The two women called another resident, Chhanna Chhay, to warn her. Chhay was able to get most of her family outside, but was worried about whether her grandfather made it out.
"My mom was still on there on the roof waving for help so I’m just hoping everybody was okay, but my grandfather, I don’t know,” Chhay said.
Part of Route 3A was closed down due to the fire.
There was no immediate word on what may have caused the fire. Investigators could be seen using a drone over the badly damaged building, where part of the roof had collapsed.
The fire was being investigated by the Lowell fire and police departments and state police assigned to both the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Office of the Middlesex District Attorney.
Lowell police Officer Walter Varey was first on the scene, according to prosecutors, and rushed up to the second floor, where he was able to crawl through heavy smoke and save a child.
Two other officers had a woman on the second floor throw her baby to them, and they caught the child safely, followed by the woman herself.
"I would like to convey my condolences to the victims of this tragic event," said Lowell Police Superintendent Raymond Kelly Richardson in a statement that went on to thank the officers who "put their lives on the line" to save the building's residents.