3-alarm fire displaces 20 people in Lynn, officials say

LYNN—Kesner Pierre was in the shower getting ready for work just after 7 a.m. today when he heard banging on the door of his second-floor apartment. When he opened it, there was no one there—just a thick wall of smoke.

“I went back to my room to get my wife out with my baby,” said Pierre, huddled in a nearby laundromat with his wife, who held their 2½-year-old daughter on her lap. “I don’t have a chance to get anything.”

When the three made it outside, Pierre said, he could see flames shooting from the right side of the three-story building at 49 Henry Ave. in Lynn. The three-alarm fire, which fire officials say likely started on an enclosed second-floor porch, displaced 20 residents from its six apartments.

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One neighbor, who helped to pull residents out of the home, was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, said Lynn Fire Deputy Chief Jack Barry. No other injuries were reported.

Calls about the fire began coming in at around 7:15 a.m., said Lynn Police Lieutenant Richard Donnelly. Officer Benjamin Chez was the first on scene. With smoke pouring out of the building, he raced inside to begin banging on doors. Officer David Hunter arrived less than a minute later, said Donnelly, and he could see fire coming from the second floor, but he followed his fellow officer inside.

“They knocked on the first- and second-floor doors. They got people out,” said Donnelly. “They couldn’t make it to the third floor, the smoke was so bad.”

Luckily, Donnelly said, there was no one on the third floor by that time.

Some residents had already made it out on their own when the officers showed up, said Donnelly. Others tried to get back inside the burning building to gather belongings, and the two officers had to force them to leave.

“Who knows what could have happened?” he said. “All we know now is that no one got hurt, and they certainly did the right thing by doing what they did.”

Lynn firefighters and the office of State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan are investigating the cause of the blaze. Lynn Fire Department Deputy Chief William Murray said the fire likely started on an enclosed porch on the second floor, climbed up the outside of the building and spread into the cockloft, the hollow space between the third floor ceiling and the roof. Firefighters cut a hole in the roof to let the fire vent, said Murray, which stopped its spread.

This morning, the second- and third-floor windows on the right side of the building were black and blown out, and charred debris sat in the driveway.

The American Red Cross assisted the six families displaced with food, housing and clothing, said spokeswoman Kat Powers, who said 16 of the residents are adults and 4 are children.

Swampscott, Saugus, and Salem firefighters assisted Lynn firefighters.

The damage to the home was estimated at $500,000.