An extended family of 16 – eight adults and eight children- was left homeless last week, after a three-alarm fire ripped through the building that housed them in three apartments at 139 Chestnut Street.
According to Lynn Fire Chief James McDonald, firefighters were called to the home, at the intersection of Union Street, a little before noon on Tuesday, December 10, but the house was already fully involved in fire, as flames could be seen in windows when the first firefighters arrived on scene.
“The first crew struck a second alarm right away and then a third-alarm was called soon after,” explained Chief McDonald.
McDonald attributed the quick spread of the fire to the construction of the house, which was estimated to be 150 years old. The building itself was a two-and a half story wood-frame house, constructed without fire stops, which allowed the flames to travel through the walls and ceiling and spread quickly from floor to floor.
Chief McDonald said he believes the house would be declared a total loss and the cause of the fire was officially undetermined.
However, a resident of the home, Camilla Chau, told investigators that she was asleep when she heard yelling that a dryer was on fire. Chau and four other people who were at home at the time were able to get out safely.
The only casualty in the fire was one of the family dogs, who was scared of the flames and refused to come out of hiding.
The home was owned by Bomthan Phok and his wife Trang Chau, who bought the home in 1994, shortly after the were married. Over the years the house’s three apartments became inhabited by members of their extended family.