More than 70 people have been displaced from their homes after a massive fire broke out Friday night in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
The fire began around 9:30 p.m. at a home on Crosby Street and quickly spread to nearby triple-deckers. It reportedly started on the third floor of the multi-family home.
The Lawrence Mayor's Office said Saturday that at least 17 families and up to 61 people were impacted by the fire. While people from three of the apartments are unaccounted for, the mayor's office said it is presumed all of those people are with family and friends.
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Lawrence Fire Chief Brian Moriarty said Friday night that all of the people who were at the buildings made it out safely, and no injuries were reported.
Five buildings were directly affected, while several others were damaged by exposure to the fire, city officials said. Two will need to be demolished.
The mayor's office also gave instructions Saturday for anyone looking to help the victims affected by the fire.
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Gift cards can be dropped off at The Center at 155 Haverhill St. between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, except on Patriots' Day. You can call 978-620-3550 for more information, the mayor's office said.
Debbie's Treasure Chest at 15 Union St., Suite 411, is also organizing clothing donations. Call 978-360-4007 for details.
The updates came from Lawrence City Council President Marc Laplante, who is serving as acting mayor while Mayor Brian DePena is away from Lawrence for Easter. DePena is expected to return Tuesday.
"I consider this to be, frankly, with Easter tomorrow, an Easter miracle of some sort," Laplante said.
He said he is grateful that every resident and firefighter made it out safely.
"It was very intense, and to think that nobody lost their lives, there were no injuries … it's amazing that we were able to walk away from this."
Flames and thick smoke were visible from at least a mile away Friday night, and aerial footage from the scene showed intense flames billowing into the dark night sky.
Firefighters from numerous neighboring communities are providing mutual aid, including Billerica, Lowell, North Reading, Salisbury, West Newbury, Reading, Groveland, Dracut, Andover, North Andover, Haverhill, Georgetown, Amesbury and Wilmington in Massachusetts, as well as Salem and Londonderry in New Hampshire.
The wind, gusting to 30 mph at times Friday night, is creating a challenge for fire crews on scene working to contain the blaze in a densely-populated residential area. Between the whipping wind and dry air, flames can skip from building to building.
A woman who lives in one of the buildings that caught fire told NBC10 Boston that she and her husband rushed outside as soon as they heard a fire alarm, and they are grateful that they are safe.
A man visiting his mom who lives in the area said they went outside after seeing smoke.
"We were surprised, like, what's going on?" he recalled of his initial reaction.
"The wind was very, very strong...We've never seen something like this," he added, noting he was worried about his parent's house. "The first house was getting on fire, then the wind was pushing it."
"It's really sad, man," said Jorlyn Bonilla, who used to live in one of the homes that was affected by the fire Friday night. "A lot of families there that lost a lot, a lot."
"It's sad to see it just go down to a crumb," Bonilla's sister added.
The American Red Cross said it is assisting at least 15 families affected by the fire. A command post was set up at the Lawrence Senior Center on Haverhill Street, and families were then moved to a hotel in Andover.
City Councilor Stephany Infante has been visiting with those residents.
"They are still in shock, they are still very emotional, still processing everything, and we're still working, trying to get them the resources and the emotional support that they need," she said.
Víctor Alfonso Sánchez Hidalgo was asleep and woke up to a nightmare, grabbing only his documents. Both he and his young son ran out without shoes.
Despite losing everything, he says he's thanking God that his family hasn't lost what's most important — each other.
There was no immediate word from fire officials on what may have caused the blaze or how much damage it caused. But the fire chief said in addition to the five homes that caught fire, other nearby homes will also need to be inspected for any damage.