LEOMINSTER – A stubborn two-alarm fire gutted a multifamily house on Lincoln Terrace and sent a resident and firefighter to the hospital early Tuesday morning.
Deputy Chief Jeffrey P. Davis said the call came in at 1 a.m. about a fire that appeared to have started on one of the balconies in the back of the house at 83 Lincoln Terrace. More than 40 firefighters fought the blaze until 5 a.m., and some firefighters stayed until 8 a.m. to monitor hot spots at the four-unit home, he said.
A fund has been established to help the displaced residents. Donations can be made payable to Leominster Fire Fund and sent to Mayor’s Office, 25 West St., Leominster, MA 01453.
Lincoln Terrace runs parallel to Central and Lancaster streets. Ledges on the steep embankment behind the house made it hard for firefighters to get around the two-and-a-half story building, he said.
“It was a stubborn fire, and the asphalt shingles on the siding are like gasoline when they get hot and add fuel to the fire,” Deputy Chief Davis said. “It was a tough fire to get to. We couldn’t put ladders in the back or run hose lines, and there was fencing that we had trouble breaching.”
A female resident was taken to the hospital, and a female firefighter who was taken to the hospital for treatment of heat exhaustion later was released. The fire gutted the building, the deputy chief said. Firefighters first tied to fight the blaze from inside the building, but clutter on the stairs made it difficult, he said. As often happens in multifamily homes that have little storage space, residents were storing bicycles and other items on the stairs, Deputy Chief Davis explained. Some of the floors also collapsed, he said.
“We evacuated firefighters and started an exterior attack,” he said.
The Fire Department tries to educate the public on the importance of not cluttering or blocking stairways, he said.
“A small fire, if we can’t get to it, can get big really fast,” the deputy chief said.
Fitchburg, Lunenburg, Shirley and Sterling fire departments were called in for mutual aid.
The blaze is under investigation.