Authorities say that four adults and three children have died after a fire Thursday morning, at a Lowell apartment building.
The fire was in a building at the corner of Queen Street and Branch Street and started at around 4 a.m. According to the Lowell Fire Chief a police officer on patrol saw the flames and ran to help people that were trapped. The fire started on the third floor and the victims are from two of the apartments.
"It's a tragic day for the city of Lowell," Mayor Rodney Elliott said.
Close to 60 people lived in the eight apartments in the building. The state fire marshal said that there was no sprinkler system and that fire crews had been called to the building several times in the past. There was a fire alarm system in the building but there was no word if it was working at the time.
“The second phase of our investigation, which is the forensic review and collection of physical evidence, is part of our origin and cause investigation. That is in the beginning stages now, investigative teams are in the building as best as they can access certain parts of the building, doing their work,” State Fire Marshal Steve Coan said.
Five of the seven fatalities were from the same family, including a mother, a father and three children. Their other two children survived.
There are reports that people were jumping out of windows because of the intense flames. Some neighbors said that they saw people dropping young children and babies out of windows to be rescued.
"I woke up to screams. To a child saying 'Help me. Help me.' And then I ran to the window. I saw that... I looked outside. I saw that it was a child hanging from the window. And the parents were holding them. And then they dropped the child to save the child. I'm not sure if the child survived the fall," said witness Chandara Chun.
Firefighters arrived on the scene and rescued five people from some of the top stories of the building. 10 people were rushed to the hospital but as of 4 p.m. seven had been released and the other three were in good condition at Lowell General Hospital. The most serious injury was a fire captain who broke his leg after some debris fell from one of the walls.
The fire destroyed the building. The roof was entirely burned away, while the outer walls were charred and the siding melted.
Officials are investigating the origin of the blaze, saying it's too early to state if the fire is suspicious.The state fire marshal is promising a full review with the District Attorney's office.
Concerned family and friends looking to connect with residents affected by the fire may call the Red Cross at (800) 564-1234.
Thursday night the owner of the building released a statement saying that he will cooperate with authorities and mourns for all of the losses.
"Words cannot begin to express the sadness I feel for everyone affected by the devastating fire this morning. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who died and those who were injured. I have met with the authorities today and will continue to cooperate fully with the investigation into this tragedy," he said.