Check Your Fire Alarms!

Lowell apartment fire kills 2, ruled accident

Lowell, MA - - Two people died and another person is in critical condition after a fire broke out at a Lowell, Massachusetts apartment building early Sunday morning.

Lowell firefighters pulled nine people from windows of the burning building on Bridge Street.

"The firefighters did an amazing job under very difficult conditions," said Lowell Fire Department Dep. Chief Jeff Windward.  "People hanging out windows, heavy fire and they did rescue nine people on aerial ladders which was a miracle."

Not everyone was able to be rescued; two people died in the fire.

"This poor guy was trying to get out of his third window, and they couldn't save him," said Wendy Bourdon, who witnessed the fire.

"We did everything we could," said firefighter Roberto Maldonado.  "There was nothing else we could do."

So much smoke was pouring out of the building that people down the street though their home was on fire.

There are 11 different apartments in the building.  The worst of the damage was located on the fourth floor.

Fire investigators believe there were 20-25 people living inside.  Most people were said to be sleeping when the fire broke out at 4 am.

"Some of the apartments, they had smoke detectors inside the apartment that were disconnected.  So there were some people that were not alerted by the alarm system.  But the firefighters did an amazing job under very difficult conditions," said Windward.

In addition to the two fatalities and a man in critical condition, two firefighters and four residents were taken to the hospital with minor injuries and have since been released.

Investigators have not gone into any specifics on what caused the blaze, but they did determine that the fire was an accident.

Demolition crews tore the building down on Monday.

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This tragedy is a perfect reason why residents and owners of multi-unit buildings need to be vigilant in checking their fire alarms.  To reiterate our previous post about fire safety:

Take Precautionary Measures:

  • Smoke detectors should be installed on each level of your building and outside every sleeping area. We recommend a professionally installed system that wires all detectors to a central alarm so if a fire occurs in a remote area, the signal can be heard throughout the house. If you opt for battery operated smoke alarms, be sure to check the batteries regularly and replace them semi-annually.

  • Multi-purpose fire extinguishers (type ABC) should be kept in areas accessible to the kitchen, furnace, hot water heater, laundry room and garage if applicable. Keep at least one extinguisher on each floor of your building and clearly label each extinguisher with the type of fire it is designed to extinguish.

Encourage Safety:

  • Establish and post an escape plan for all of your tenants to view.

  • Every tenant should be able to unlock all exit doors and ground-floor windows for quick escape.