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A five-alarm fire destroyed a single-family home and several cars on Plum Island Saturday afternoon, while also damaging two nearby residences, according to Newbury fire officials.

Heavy, black smoke could be seen billowing out of the home at 11 20th Street, just a short distance from where residents and visitors were enjoying an afternoon at the island’s popular beach.

An off-duty Newbury fire captain spotted the blaze and alerted the department to the fire shortly before 1 p.m., Fire Chief Nathan Walker said in a statement.

The fire is believed to have started on the first floor. No one was home at the wood frame home, and there were no injuries, Walker said.

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“This was an extremely large fire that quickly engulfed the home and required an aggressive exterior attack,” Walker said.

Five alarms were sounded to ensure that enough fire crews were on the scene, he said. Crews from eight Merrimack Valley fire departments responded, along with a crew from Hampton, N.H., the statement said.

Two surrounding homes had severe heat damage. Vinyl siding on at least one house was melted off, according to a photograph taken at the scene.

Neighbors used hoses on a home to prevent it from catching fire.
Neighbors used hoses on a home to prevent it from catching fire. Mark Lorenz for the Boston Globe

Several firefighters were evaluated for heat exhaustion, and one was taken to a local hospital for heat exhaustion, Walker said.

The fire was brought under control by 3 p .m. Firefighters were expected to stay on the scene throughout Saturday evening.

Jennifer Mieth, a spokeswoman for the state fire marshal’s office, said the cause of the fire is under investigation.

Two of three cars that were destroyed in a by the fire.
Two of three cars that were destroyed in a by the fire. Mark Lorenz for the Boston Globe/Globe Freelance

Amanda Burke can be reached at amanda.burke@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @charlie_acb. Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.