LYNN (CBS) – Four people were found dead after a three-alarm fire destroyed a crowded home in Lynn early Friday morning.
Firefighters say the two-and-a-half story house on Bruce Place was engulfed in flames and people were trying to escape when they arrived just before 1 a.m.
One man told WBZ-TV’s Susie Steimle “It was a ball of fire. It’s incredible.”
Lynn Fire Chief Jim McDonald told reporters at least 18 people were living in the building.
“We rescued two people out of the back door, and four others were trapped inside and they are deceased,” he said.
The victims were in their late teens and older, according to McDonald. Their names have not been made public yet.
District Fire Chief Jack Barry said firefighters ran into the burning home twice to save as many people as possible.
“The amount of smoke and heat that they experienced up there was unbelievable. There’s cars parked on the street that are damaged primarily from the heat,” he said. “It was a tremendous amount of heat that they had to go through.”
McDonald said all four victims were found on the second floor.
Two women were pulled out of a second floor kitchen unconscious, but firefighters couldn’t go back inside because the conditions became too dangerous.
In his 32 years as a Lynn firefighter, Barry said “It was one of the most spectacular rescues I’ve seen.”
“The structure was so heavily involved in fire when our crews arrived. We had fires throughout the building. We’re also dealing with a very, very narrow street, a tight, congested area, so it’s a really, really difficult fire to fight and a difficult one to try and get to the victims. Crews made really, really valiant efforts even getting to the two we were able to get to,” District Fire Chief Stephen Archer told reporters.
The two women who were rescued were revived in ambulances on their way to Massachusetts General Hospital. There’s no word yet on their conditions.
Their names have not been released. Archer said one woman is in her 60’s and the other is 18 years old.
Archer had to run back to the house during his interview with reporters because the roof collapsed as he was answering a question.
Watch: Roof Collapse Ends Interview
Olga Macario, a friend of one of the victim’s, stood in the street in disbelief comforting friends of the victims. She can’t wrap her head around this loss.
“I’m thinking of the survivors (and) the teenagers,” she said, adding that she wished this never would have happened to the family.
There’s no word yet on how the fire started.
The Essex County District Attorney’s Office is now handling the investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to call Lynn Fire Department at (781) 599-0232, or the State Fire Marshal’s Office at 1 (800) 682-9229. Investigators are also hoping people will come forward with any video they might have captured of the fire, and they can provide information and video anonymously.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Karen Twomey reports