Lowell Thanksgiving Blaze Left Homes Charred Ruins, Dozens in Need
LOWELL -- Only the morning after the blaze could you clearly see the devastation.
The light yellow home at 24 Arthur St. was charred with some of its windows broken. Sunlight poured into the partially collapsed roof and onto an interior covered in soot. Two small mismatched shoes and a flip-flop sandal lay on the front steps, frozen in ice from the water firefighters blasted the night before.
Firefighters on Thanksgiving night battled cold and frozen equipment during the fire on Shaw and Arthur streets that left two dozen people homeless. It was unclear Friday morning where the displaced residents went.
One firefighter was taken to a hospital with smoke inhalation. No other injuries were reported.
No cause had been determined by officials as of Friday. Fire investigators from the city and state were on scene. Lowell Deputy Fire Chief Mark McGuane said investigators would be working through the buildings to try to determine a cause.
“But as you can see, it’s going to be a daunting task,” McGuane said as he peered up at the home at 24 Arthur St. “There’s a lot of destruction and a lot of the evidence may be covered up, but they’ll do their best.”
Crews were called first to 35 Shaw St. about 5:35 p.m. Thursday for a report of a fire, but the first firefighters to arrive on the scene told dispatchers there was smoke and fire showing from a home behind that address at 22 Arthur St. A second alarm was quickly struck as flames shot out of the 2 1/2-story home at Arthur and Sagamore streets. According to Fire Chief Jeffrey Winward, the homes at 35 Shaw St. and 22 Arthur St. were a total loss; a third home, at 20 Arthur St., also suffered damage.
Winward told The Sun on Thursday that firefighters had to put water on a fourth home to keep it from catching fire due to embers landing on it.
According to city officials, more than two dozen residents of the three homes were displaced. City officials said those residents were given vouchers for temporary lodging in area hotels.
Friday morning, two men and two women who were huddled together behind crime-scene tape spoke to an official from across the street.
Shortly before 11 a.m., Melissa Allan stood with her bull mastiff pitbull, Halo, near the scene. She brought her dog out to walk but paused to take in the destruction. Allan, who lives in an apartment complex nearby, said her fiance, Thomas Anderson, woke her up Thursday when he saw the fire.
Allan said she felt “terror” at seeing the blaze engulf the homes. She described the residents who live in one of the houses as “nice people” with young boys.
“It was scary. It was very scary. It was so close,” Allan said. “I don’t know how a fire like that starts. It was so bright. It was like lighting up the house. It was so scary. It was so big.”
When she headed back to bed, Allan said she made sure her oven was off and there was nothing in it.
“The last thing you think about when you go to sleep is ‘Am I going to wake up to a fire?’” she said. “It’s very scary when it’s so close to home.”
A GoFundme page titled “Peou Family Thanksgiving Fire Tragedy” was created for the inhabitants of one of the houses. A user named Linda Lunn Mak wrote on the page that her father-in-law’s home caught on fire.
“This is extremely hard because they have elderly parents and two young boys (7 years old and 2 years old) living with them As we all know this is unexpected,” the fundraiser story reads. “God was with us, and he got everyone out safe. I kindly ask if we can all help them get back on their feet. Any contribution is a big help. Thank you.”
Mak said in an email that they are grateful everyone made it out of the home safely.
“We created a GoFundMe but are also kindly accepting clothes and toys for the little ones and also we want to help the other families who are affected,” Mak said.
As of Friday evening, more than $4,000 were raised of a goal of $10,000.
Staff writer Robert Mills contributed to this report.
Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.