BEVERLY — A three-alarm fire tore through a Beverly neighborhood Sunday night, setting three houses ablaze and covering several blocks in ash and embers.
No one was injured, firefighters said at the scene.
The fire began in a house under construction about 9:30 p.m. before spreading to two others — one under construction and one occupied — while causing damage to several others on Folger Avenue, according to Ron Carnevale, who said he lives about 600 feet away from the blaze.
The fire in the occupied house appeared to have been doused by about 10:30 p.m., Carnevale said.
“When I looked out the window first I just saw a flicker,” said Carnevale, 58. “I didn’t know what it was, and I just looked out and the whole attic was ablaze.”
Officials evacuated about five homes in Beverly during the blaze.
Smoke still rising from 2 burned homes in Beverly. Main blaze knocked down. 6 nearby houses damaged. pic.twitter.com/MBcI9d8Ke3— Dan Adams (@DanielAdams86) July 14, 2014
Firefighters sprayed every house on the street to prevent them from catching fire from the embers, said Carnevale, who took in some of his neighbors who had been ordered to leave their homes.
The heat from the fire broke windows and charred the siding on several houses on both sides of the street.
Most of the fire appeared to be out by 11:15 p.m., though smoke continued rising from the wreckage.
The blaze destroyed two houses, leaving nothing standing more than 10 feet tall.
The third house appeared to be heavily damaged, with charred siding and falling shingles.
At the height of the fire, the flames lit up the night sky.
“The wind blew a whole cloud of embers over the neighborhood,” said Jonathan McKenna, 27.
He said he was watching TV with his family when they first smelled smoke. “There were big chunks of burning wood falling everywhere.”
Piles of burned timbers still smoldering after Beverly fire. No firefighters hurt, but sure look exhausted. pic.twitter.com/zpwgGmQNjF— Dan Adams (@DanielAdams86) July 14, 2014
McKenna said he used a garden hose to keep his house wet.
“I was sure with the wind that other houses would catch,” he said.
A crowd of neighbors gathered to watch firefighters battle the blaze.
Some said firefighters had difficulty getting water to the scene, running hoses from as far as a half-mile away.
Firefighters from Swampscott, Salem, Wenham, and Manchester-by-the-Sea were at the fire.
Workers had just completed the roofs and installed windows on the two houses under construction, Carnevale said, but they had yet to put on the siding.
Paul Guanci, Beverly City Council president, said he learned of the fire just before 10:45 p.m. when his wife saw a posting on Facebook.
He said the home on fire was in a new housing development.
“We do have three fire stations in Beverly,” he said.
Guanci could not remember any large fires in recent history.
“We had one on the Fourth of July a few years ago,” he said.
Beverly fire rained hot ash and chunks of burning wood for miles. Residents frantically hosed down cars, homes. pic.twitter.com/4zyoUmRblU— Dan Adams (@DanielAdams86) July 14, 2014
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