Firefighters were forced onto boats in the Annisquam River to battle an intense blaze Saturday morning at a home in Gloucester that killed two dogs and injured a firefighter, officials said.
The firefighter was treated and released from a nearby hospital, Gloucester Fire Chief Eric Smith said in a statement.
Gloucester firefighters responded around 10:30 a.m. to a 911 call for a report of a fire at 498 Washington Street. Boaters on the Annisquam River reported the blaze after seeing it from the water, officials said.
Heavy smoke was visible and the fire was well advanced when firefighters arrived, according to officials, who say neighbors told them upon arrival that the family who lived inside was not currently at home.
“This fire was well advanced by the time firefighters arrived, and the terrain made the response more difficult, but all crews on scene did a tremendous job in containing and ultimately extinguishing the fire, along with the crucial assistance from the Gloucester Police Safe Boat,” Chief Smith said. “We also commend the boaters for calling in the fire when they witnessed it from the water.”
Intense heat drove firefighters back after an initial attack, forcing fire crews to attack the blaze from the exterior of the home, Smith said.
Due to limited land access, boats from Gloucester police and the harbormaster were used to allow firefighters to spray water on the home from the river, the fire department said.
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The blaze was knocked down by 11:30 a.m. but continued to flare up due to firefighters being forced to stay outside of the home.
Rockport and Essex firefighters assisted on scene.
The fire commissioner declared the house unsafe for entry due to extensive damage, but the family who lives there declined housing assistance, according to fire officials.
The fire remains under investigation by the Gloucester Fire Department and State Fire Marshal’s Office.