• Thu. Dec 8th, 2022

Blaze tears up a homeless camp in Salem | New

ByDebra J. Aguilar

Sep 4, 2022

SALEM — A fire destroyed a homeless camp along the Salem/Beverly bypass Friday night.

Flames erupted at the camp, located just before Skerry Street in Salem in a closed area between the train tracks and the ocean, around 6 p.m., Salem Deputy Fire Chief Tony Marfongelli said.

Several drivers reported seeing thick black smoke above the ring road. The fire spread about 1 1/4 acres wide, destroying most of the camp’s dozen or so tents.

The MBTA closed tracks and blocked trains on the Newburyport/Rockport line while firefighters tackled the blaze.

“There was a forced entry at the gate and we brought in two lines to attack the fire aggressively,” Marfongelli said.

Firefighters aggressively searched for victims during the blaze and after it was extinguished around 7:30 p.m. None have been found.

No injuries were reported.

“We had to get there quickly because of the dry brush and knowing there could still be a casualty in the homeless area there, so it was a good aggressive attack from the team. ‘company,” Marfongelli said.

Both sides of the bypass were closed during the fire so crews could access a fire hydrant on the side of the road opposite the camp. Traffic was diverted via Bridge Street until firefighters evacuated the scene.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

“They do a lot of cooking there. They smoke a lot, so it could be a combination of those,” Marfongelli said.

Contact Caroline Enos at CEnos@northofboston.com and follow her on Twitter @CarolineEnos.