EVERETT -- About a half-hour into fighting a raging apartment fire on Bow Street early this morning, Captain Norman Solari heard a loud crack as he stood on the first floor of the triple-decker. While he wasn't sure what caused the sound, Solari and the firefighters with him knew something was wrong.
The men rushed out of the building, and about 15 seconds later, the left portion of the building collapsed, sending huge wooden beams, the roof, bricks, and other debris tumbling to the ground.
The sound was actually the floor separating from the wall, said Everett Deputy Fire Chief Bill Humphries said.
In a separate close call about a half-hour earlier, Everett Deputy Chief John Berghello ushered four residents out of the burning building. A total of 11 residents were evacuated. None were injured.
The fire started at about 11:30 p.m. Monday, and Berghello, one of the first firefighters on the scene, was told that a family was still inside, on the third floor of the right side of the structure, actually two triple-deckers connected in the center. Berghello rushed up the stairway, found the family, three adults and a child, and led them out.
"I was just doing my job. I've been on the force for 32 years," he said.
Two firefighters were briefly hospitalized. A Chelsea firefighter was treated for shortness of breath and an Everett firefighter was treated for elevated levels of carbon monoxide.
The left half of the apartment complex, where the collapse occurred, was boarded up and unoccupied. Officials believe the fire started in that area and they are
characterizing the fire as suspicious. As many as 50 firefighters from Everett and surrounding communities battled the three-alarm blaze for about three hours. Firefighters encountered minor problems with two fire hydrants. One had low pressure and the other couldn't be opened.
This morning, smoke still rose from a massive pile of debris.
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