Fire swept through a three-family home in Lawrence on Saturday afternoon, severely damaging it and leaving several people unable to return home for the night, fire officials said.

According to Lawrence Acting Fire Chief Brian Murphy, the fire broke out at 5:30 p.m. on the third floor of the home at 34 Salem St. Firefighters were able to knock the flames down quickly, but the damaged was estimated at about $50,000.

Three families were put out, and the Red Cross was on scene assisting them last night, Murphy said.

The fire was kept to a small single-alarm, but it still required every firefighter in the city to respond, as half of the Lawrence fire houses have been closed down due to budget cuts. One fire truck had to leave the scene during the mop-up phase to respond to a fire alarm sounding elsewhere in Lawrence.

Only 15 firefighters were on duty at the time, which is fewer firefighters working at any given moment than many small towns in Massachusetts, including Brookline and neighboring North Andover, which frequently sends mutual aid trucks into Lawrence during fires.

About The Author

John Guilfoil is the editor-in-chief of Blast: Boston's Online Magazine and the Blast Magazine Network. He can be reached at [email protected]. Tweet @johnguilfoil.

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