SALISBURY (CBS) – More than 20 people are displaced following a massive wind-whipped fire that spread to multiple buildings during an early Monday morning storm. Flames were roaring on Central Ave. overnight.
A motel, three single-family homes, and a 12-unit apartment building were burned to the ground. Other nearby buildings were damaged.
When firefighters first responded around 1:45 a.m., winds were around 13 MPH. But winds later started whipping at over 30 MPH.
“We had hurricane-force winds,” said Salisbury Fire Capt. Andrew Murphy. “We did everything we could.”
Four people were unaware of the fire and needed to be taken out of the buildings by fire crews.
No injuries were reported.
Resident John McGuirk was able to catch some of the flames on camera. He told WBZ-TV he was woken up in the middle of the night.
“An officer pounded on my door and screamed everybody has to evacuate this area, there’s a fire right up the street and it’s coming your way. Everybody’s got to get out of here. I just immediately woke my roommate up and I got right out of there,” McGuirk said.
— Lisa Gresci (@Lisa_Gresci) January 17, 2022
In all, more than 100 firefighters and about 30 apparatus from Salisbury and other communities in Essex County and Southern New Hampshire responded.
Power and utilities were shut off on Central Ave. while firefighters worked to knock down the flames.
A warming center and temporary shelter was set up at the Hilton Center on Lafayette Road. Anyone impacted by the fire is asked to go to the Salisbury Council on Aging or call (800) 564-1234.
The American Red Cross has been assisting 36 individuals.
Resident Tammy Gardner lost everything in a matter of minutes.
“We don’t know how we’re going to do this,” she said at the warming center. “I want to go to bed. I have a hotel waiting for me but I have to wait for my medicine.”
Salisbury fire crews believe this is the largest fire the town has seen in 25 years.
The State Fire Marshal will return to try and determine the cause of the massive fire.