By Katie Brace

LAWRENCE (CBS) – The flames lit up the sky of a Lawrence neighborhood Thursday evening. The fire was already going strong when firefighters arrived.

“I just saw fire,” said Xiomara Oppenheimer who saw the flames as she drove to her family’s restaurant across the street from the burning house.

“I smelled it,” said Alma Sanchez who was one of the eleven people who lived in the four apartments. They all managed to get out safely before firefighters responded.

“I think in the kitchen of the second floor,” said Sanchez addressing questions about where the fire started.

Firefighters focused on the house on Manchester Street and making sure the fire didn’t take hold of the homes only feet away. Three neighboring homes were damaged. The chief says this fire was a challenge.

“Because of collapse and the amount of damage, access to where it’s burning is a long arduous process,” said Lawrence Fire Chief Brian Moriarty.

Crews worked in the bitter cold with the water freezing to ice under their feet.

“It is cold and they were like crying,” said Oppenheimer.

She invited the neighbors into the restaurant to stay warm and eat.

“I got a heart,” said Oppenheimer.

Oppenheimer showed us the video she took earlier in the evening and shared what really made her want to help.

“One of those ladies she was like crying like, ‘I just want to die. Everything is there. I lost everything,’” said Oppenheimer.

The fire chief said the fire is not suspicious. No one was injured. Firefighters were able to save four parakeets from inside.


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