By CBSBoston.com Staff

LAWRENCE (CBS) – A massive fire in Lawrence that began Sunday night on Saratoga Street destroyed or heavily damaged four multi-family homes, according to the city’s Fire Chief Brian Moriarty. The fire reached homes on both Saratoga Street and Bennington Street.

As of Sunday night, it is unknown how the fire started or how many people were displaced. Moriarty noted that only one woman was taken to the hospital with injuries, and no firefighters were hurt putting out the flames.

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“It could have been a lot worse,” said Moriarty. “Smoke detectors saved lives.”

The 5-alarm fire was first reported around 6 p.m.

“It was like a little fire coming out. We thought it was like a barbecue or something like that,” said one neighbor. “Then like after one minute, a fire went crazy, and I was like, I have to call 9-1-1.”

Moriarty said the fire started with two buildings, but because of the wind, the flames spread. He stated that was one of several issues firefighters faced when they arrived.

“We had a lot of problems because of one, the congested area. Two, the wind picked up and had extremely heavy fire on arrival. And three, people wouldn’t get out of our way. It was too interesting to see a fire, and it prevented us from getting in. Mutual aid was blocked and had to take numerous round-a-bout ways to get to where the fire was and try to put it out,” said the Lawrence Fire Chief.

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Lawrence Mayor Kendrys Vasquez asked people on Sunday to stay away from Saratoga Street. He is also told victims of the fire to go to the Command Center on Lawrence Street near Pollo Tipico and Farrah Funeral Home for Red Cross assistance.

CBSBoston.com Staff