Massive flames driven by high winds engulfed a motel and at least four other buildings early Monday, destroying the structures in the beach town of Salisbury, according to officials.
The nine-alarm blaze at Michael’s Oceanfront Motel on Central Avenue was called in just before 2 a.m., according to a joint statement from Salisbury fire Chief Scott Carrigan and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey.
Flames spread to at least four other residential buildings, including seasonal homes that were unoccupied, according to the statement. All five structures are considered a total loss, and some nearby buildings were also damaged, officials said.
“Our top priority throughout the night was to protect the surrounding community from a large and growing fire that was being pushed toward other structures by high wind conditions,” Carrigan said.
Officials said more than 100 firefighters spent several hours fighting the blaze. Fire departments across Essex County and southern New Hampshire assisted with extinguishing the flames.
“I want to recognize the Salisbury firefighters who fought relentlessly against the threat that this fire posed to lives and property under extremely challenging weather conditions, as well as the many fire departments who provided mutual aid,” Carrigan said.
The fire was first reported by a Massachusetts Department of Transportation employee, who saw flames at the motel, according to officials.
Videos and photos from the scene showed large flames burning multiple structures in the beach town in northeastern Massachusetts, just south of the New Hampshire state line.
Winds of 20 to 30 miles an hour and heavy rain created harsh conditions for those who fought the fire, according to The Boston Globe. The buildings were reduced to rubble, the paper reported.
Officials said more than 30 people have been displaced and are being assisted by the Red Cross of Massachusetts and Salvation Army.
According to the paper, no one was hurt.
Salisbury police said on Twitter that the city’s Emergency Management and the American Red Cross had set up a community room at the police department for people displaced by the fire. The department also said Central Avenue would remain closed until sometime tomorrow.
Local resident John McGuirk told WCVB-TV he woke up to an officer banging on his door.
“An officer pounded on my door and screamed everybody has to evacuate this area, there’s a fire right up the street and it’s coming your way,” he told the station.
Officials said the Salisbury Fire Department and the State Police Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit assigned to the State Fire Marshal’s office are investigating the cause of the fire.
“What we do know is that this fire started, grew, and spread in the middle of the night when most people were sleeping,” Ostroskey said. “This is why we urge everyone to be sure their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are present and working on every floor of every home.
“Whatever else you do today, check your smoke alarms. The cost of installing fresh batteries or replacing alarms that are more than 10 years old is a small price to pay compared to the damage we saw at this scene.”