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Three alarm fire destroys liquor store and bakery in Lawrence

A three-alarm fire early Friday morning in Lawrence destroyed a liquor store and a bakery on Essex Street located in adjacent buildings that did not have sprinkler systems, the city’s fire chief said.

Firefighters responded to an alarm at the bakery, located at the corner with Newbury Street, just before 4 a.m. But when crews arrived, they found smoke coming from Sweeney’s, a package store located at 90 Essex St., chief Brian Moriarty said.

“It was very smokey [and] it had a good head start,” Moriarty said of the fast-moving fire. “It was actually in the walls and got up into the ceilings right away.”


Second and third alarms were ordered, drawing fire crews from several departments in the Merrimack Valley. Conditions worsened to the point where crews had to be ordered out of the building for safety reasons, Moriarty said.

“There was just too much fire for us,” Moriarty said in an interview Friday night. “With all the supplies that were in the building, all the product that was starting to make it dangerous.”

Firefighters surrounded the building with aerial ladders, but both the liquor store and the bakery were severely damaged and wound up collapsing, Moriarty said.

The fire was eventually extinguished and the buildings were taken down at the same time, Moriarty said.

“So now it’s a pile of rubble on the ground,” Moriarty said.

No injuries were reported, Moriarty said.

The bakery building had working smoke detectors, but the liquor store did not, Moriarty said. Neither business had a sprinkler system.

Sweet Grace Heavenly Cakes said on their Facebook page that the bakery had “suffered a massive fire” and would be giving a full refund to customers who placed orders for March and April.

The bakery also said that they “already have a place to start the operations but we need to have the equipment and supply needed and that will take us a few days to organize,” they also asked that customers for patience while they resolve the situation.


The cause of the fire is under investigation, Moriarty said. The damage is estimated to be somewhere in the range of $1 million, he said.

Adam Sennott can be reached at adam.sennott@globe.com.