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Thanksgiving Blaze Routs Residents

November 23, 2018

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LOWELL -- Firefighters, at least one of whom was taken to a hospital with smoke inhalation, battled cold and frozen equipment as they fought a wind-whipped three-alarm fire on Shaw and Arthur streets that left at least two dozen people homeless on Thanksgiving.

Crews were called first to 35 Shaw St. about 5:35 p.m., 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. in the city’s Highlands section.

A second alarm was quickly struck as flames shot out of the 2 1/2 story home at Arthur and Sagamore streets while crews rushed to get water on the blaze.

At one point two firefighters who were working to establish a new hose line slid on ice that quickly formed in the street, lost control of the large hose line they were working with and got blasted with water at close range.

The water had enough force behind it to blow one of the firefighters halfway across the street. Both firefighters continued working to get water on the blaze instead of seeking medical attention.

Within about 30 minutes, gusty winds pushed the blaze to spread to the rear of a second home located at 35 Shaw St., on the corner of Shaw and Sagamore streets. By later in the night, both that home and 22 Arthur St., were a total loss, according to Fire Chief Jeffrey Winward.

Winward said a third home, at 20 Arthur St., also suffered damage in the blaze, and that firefighters had to put water on a fourth home to keep it from catching fire due to embers landing on it.

Winward said a firefighter was taken to a city hospital with smoke inhalation, in the only known significant injury suffered during the fire. He said all residents of the homes escaped safely.

Winward said there were nine residents displaced from the first home, 13 displaced from the second home, and several displaced from the third home impacted by the fire.

Ice covered streets around the blaze and icicles covered power lines as crews battled the fire in temperatures that dropped as low as 9 degrees on Thursday, according to the UMass Lowell Weather Center.

Winward said the cold and wind hampered efforts to battle the blaze, as did frozen fire hydrants and frozen hose lines.

Commanders requested the city send sander trucks to the scene to help firefighters deal with ice that was forming around the area due to the water be used to battle the blaze.

Winward said the cause of the blaze was not immediately apparent, but that it appears the fire started in the rear of 22 Arthur St.

Follow Robert Mills on Twitter @Robert_Mills

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