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Family safe after fire ravages house

Attic and roof bear brunt of flame damage at turn-of-century Peabody home

News editor

A Peabody couple is safe but homeless after a fire Friday that apparently started in a chimney and spread to an attic, leading to extensive smoke and water damage.

Firefighters from Peabody, Florence, and Burns responded to the home of Del and Linda Eden at 116 W. 3rd St. when a caller reported flames “coming from the back of the house” shortly after noon.

According to a social media post by their daughter, Allison Tajchman, the Edens were asleep when Del Eden woke up and smelled smoke. He woke Linda and they escaped.

The source of the fire appeared to be a fireplace that had been added to the east side of the house by a previous owner, Peabody fire chief Mark Penner said.

“It looks like it started in one of the little vents for the fireplace,” Penner said. “It was kind of in the walls there in the whole area where the chimney went up the side of the house. It went clear up into the attic.”

While some firefighters tackled the blaze from the outside, others donned breathing gear and entered the two-story house, heading for the attic.

“There was a lot of heat and smoke upstairs,” Penner said. “It was a little difficult getting up there.”

The main attic entry was inaccessible, Penner said, but firefighters found an alternative.

“We had to go in through where the attic fan was,” he said. “It was rolling pretty good in the attic when we got in, and about that time one of the windows broke and it flashed down on us. We had to back off then go back in and hit it hard again.”

Firefighters were successful in containing the fire to the attic, chimney, and roof of the house, built in 1900, and quickly extinguished a flare-up on the east side of the roof about an hour after the fire began.

“There’s considerable smoke and water damage inside, but the people who lived here, we could walk them in to get some of their belongings,” Penner said. “They were able to save quite a little bit of their stuff.”

Peabody has two volunteer firefighters in town every day, Penner said, enabling the department to respond quickly. Conditions at the house also helped slow the fire’s spread.

“It was buttoned up really tight,” Penner said. “If it would’ve had any more windows broken or ventilation, we would’ve lost the whole house. We were fortunate in the way the whole thing worked out. I’m proud of my guys today; they did a fantastic job.”

Del Eden’s barber shop, operated in a separate building behind the house, was not damaged.

The Edens reportedly found temporary housing in Newton.

Last modified Dec. 28, 2017

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