BEVERLY — Karl Gadbois was walking home when he saw the Elliott Chambers rooming house ablaze. From across the street, he watched firefighters struggle to extinguish the inferno and rescue the building’s dwellers, amid bright lights and blaring sirens in the early morning darkness three decades back.
He saw people, including acquaintances and relatives of friends, jumping from the upper floors of the three-story wooden building. Many grabbed on to power lines to break their fall on the pavement. One man died after leaping from the third floor. In all, 15 would perish.