Waterford — Dawn Hawthorne comforted her mother, Marsha Menghi, with a large embrace as the two watched in disbelief as firefighters extinguished a blaze that destroyed Menghi's home at 5 Manitock Hill Road.
Hawthorne said her mother has lived in the home for more than 30 years. It's the home her father, John, bought so they could get away from the city.
"I'm in shock," Hawthorne said. "All of my father's photos are gone."
Hawthorne said her mother was staying with her at her Salem home at the time of the fire because they were planning to visit her 97-year-old grandmother together.
"Thank God she was with me," Hawthorne said. "There was no way she would have ever made it out alive."
Dawn Hawthorne's brother, Louis Menghi, was the only one at the home at the time of the fire. She said he fell asleep around 5:30 a.m. and everything appeared to be fine. He was awakened by the cries of the family cat.
"He escaped through a window," Hawthorne said of her brother.
Fire Marshal Peter Schlink said two dogs and a cat were killed in the fire. Family members at the scene said a bird, "Ziggy," also perished.
Hawthorne said the home was not insured. She said Menghi was working on the home to bring it up to code so it could be insured.
Jordan Fire Chief Tim Sullivan said the fire was reported at 8:20 a.m. and was under control within 45 minutes.
Arriving crews saw smoke and fire coming from the first floor.
The snowy roads briefly hampered the firefighters' ability to get water to the fire, he said.
Large pumper trucks were not able to navigate the steep, narrow hill that leads to the house, so the trucks remained at the base of the hill and firefighters dragged more than 600 feet of hose from the nearest hydrant up to the house.
At times, firefighters fought with the hoses as they kinked and got stuck in the slush. Sullivan said fire crews had to carry up the hill all the equipment needed to fight the blaze. He said he decided to declare the fire a second-alarm because they needed the extra personnel.
Sullivan said 50 firefighters were called to the scene. In addition to all the town's departments, Flanders, a Submarine FAST team, Lawrence & Memorial paramedics and the American Red Cross responded.
Initially, firefighters fought the fire from inside the dwelling, but as it became unsafe, they moved outside.
Every window in the home was shattered and it appeared that a portion of the left side of the house had collapsed. At one point, popping noises prompted firefighters to tell onlookers to step back.
Two firefighters were injured. One slipped and broke a tooth while the other fell and injured a knee.
The firefighter with the injured knee was placed in a Stokes basket while firefighters slid him down the hill to an awaiting ambulance.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.