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Published: October 10, 2008 10:06 pm ShareThisPrintThis
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Clothes rescued from laundry fire
By Mike Stucka
Staff Writer

SALEM - The $50,000 fire at the Sunshine Laundry came as a surprise to everyone yesterday afternoon, including the firefighters who'd driven past the building just a few minutes before the 911 call came in.
Laundry client Armando Bessa, 33, said the business went from normal to disastrous in moments while about six people were inside.
"One minute to another, smoke started coming under the door and then it started smoking up the whole place," he said. "... It was kind of scary in there. Everybody started to cough at the same time."
Salem Fire Engine 4 had passed the building at 19 Boston St. about three minutes earlier as its firefighters returned from a false alarm. No one noticed anything. They were back in the station, a block away, when the call came in at 2:02 p.m. Firefighters knocked the blaze down around 2:25 p.m.
Salem Deputy fire Chief Brian Harrington said firefighters had a tough time fighting the blaze behind some clothes dryers, an area just a few feet wide. They cut two holes in the building's roof to clear the smoke out of the way. Torn-apart roof vents were scattered behind the building while a tuft of charred insulation remained on the roof yesterday.
"It could be $50,000 (damage) with the machines and the roof," he said.
Harrington said firefighters found several more hot spots in the roof even after the fire was out. Lt. Tim Flynn was investigating the blaze's cause yesterday.
The fire closed down Boston Street, which ends at Highland Avenue near a Salem fire station and becomes Peabody's Main Street, for about an hour. Firefighters helped the business' six patrons rescue their clothing from machines after the fire was out. One woman clutched three black trash bags of clothes as two children carried a third child to her Lincoln.
Mickey Moise, 19, of Salem had to make two trips to grab his wet laundry from the stricken business. He'd loaded up a $5 washing machine and two $3 machines with laundry on 26-minute cycles, then left for Taco Bell. He returned, surprised, to find four Salem firetrucks at the laundry.
"Before I left something smelled like smoke," he said.
Firefighters from Peabody, Beverly and Lynn helped protect Salem while Salem firefighters and Rehab 5 went to the laundromat. Flynn said the business has been owned by Jim Whitmore since 1990.
 
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