Firefighters are battling a massive fire Friday night in Lawrence, Massachusetts, that has affected at least 16 families.
The multi-alarm fire broke out around 9:30 p.m. at a home on Crosby Street and quickly spread to several other triple-deckers nearby. The fire reportedly started on the third floor of the multi-family home.
All residents made it out safely, and no injuries have been reported, Lawrence Fire Chief Brian Moriarty said.
Flames and thick smoke were visible from at least a mile away, 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.
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"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.
It's unclear how exactly how many people were displaced Friday night, but the American Red Cross said it is assisting at least 15 families affected by the fire. A command post has been set up at the Lawrence Senior Center on Haverhill Street.
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.