HAVERHILL - A two-alarm fire destroyed a house at 63 Pecker St. Saturday, displacing four families, said Deputy Fire Chief Brian Moriarty.
He said a dog died in the fire but members of the four families escaped safely.
Firefighters could see smoke billowing as they left the station on Water Street, less than a mile away, Moriarty said. When they arrived, heavy flames were rising from the basement in the back of the two-story house, he said.
Lyn Salter, who lived in a second-floor apartment with her two grandchildren, her daughter, and her daughter’s fiance, said she woke to the smell of smoke about 8:30 a.m. She threw a blanket over her two grandchildren to protect them from the smoke and her family rushed to the back door of their apartment. But flames shooting up near the door forced the family to turn to the front door to exit, she said.
“We just got out of there, not even realizing how bad it was,’’ Salter said. She said no fire alarms had sounded.
Salter’s daughter, Christine Turcotte, said the smell of smoke replaced the odor of gas that had been lingering for about a week.
“People here have been saying all week that there’s a gas smell in the hallway,’’ Turcotte said. She said residents had called the landlord, Krista Blum, to report the odor, but Blum did not respond. When reached by phone, she declined to talk.
Turcotte, Salter, and some neighbors stood on the sidewalk watching as firefighters hosed charred shingles from a ladder. The water ran in streams through shattered windows and pooled at the foot of a collapsed staircase on the first floor.
“We lost everything,’’ Turcotte said. “We’re just really lucky our family’s OK.’’
Red Cross will provide assistance to the families, Moriarty said. The cause of the fire is under investigation.Marjorie Nesin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.