Fire strikes Middleton home

By JILL HARMACINSKI

Staff writer

MIDDLETON -- A 7 p.m. blaze gutted the basement of a large Peabody Street Colonial-style home shared by more than a dozen family members.

No one was seriously injured in the fire at 32 Peabody St. last night, but officials said both the Cirino and Bolicki family members could not immediately return to their home.

"It will need some significant work before they can," Middleton Fire Lt. William O'Neil said.

In the aftermath of last night's blaze, the family members sought shelter with friends living nearby, he said.

Firefighters initially received a report someone was trapped on the second floor of the home when the fire broke out. Firefighting manpower in town was light with just two Middleton firefighters arriving from the station downtown and two others racing to the scene.

Crews arrived and learned a pet, not a person, was trapped on the second floor of the gray and maroon-shuttered center entrance Colonial. The pet bird perished in the fire, but O'Neil was happy to report family members evacuated the home safely.

Meanwhile, help from firefighters in numerous North Shore towns was immediately requested. Crews from North Reading, Danvers, Boxford, Topsfield and Lynnfield were called to Peabody Street to help and to cover the Middleton fire station.

The fire was quickly knocked down in the basement, confining fire damage to that area.

"The Fire Department did a fantastic job," Middleton Police Sgt. James DiGianvittorio said.

DiGianvittorio along with the town's building inspector and a trooper assigned to the State Fire Marshal's Office were all called in to investigate last night's blaze. They believe the fire was accidental in nature, but would not elaborate further on its cause.

A stove is located in the basement of the home but it's unknown if that played a role in the fire. O'Neil said the fire broke out in a "congested" area in the center of the basement.

Firefighters didn't just fight last night's blaze, they also had to bring their own water supply with them. A public water supply is not available on Peabody Street, O'Neil explained. Approximately 9,000 gallons of water was shuttled to Peabody Street. Firefighters and investigators worked at the scene for more than three hours last night.