A two-alarm destroyed a 19th century barn at 1005 Livingston St. on Wednesday, taking with it two antique cars and nearly a century of family history.
The fire broke out just after 2 p.m. and arrived just in the nick of time to save an adjacent duplex.
"When we got here the barn was fully involved and the heat had startd to melt the siding on the house," Firefighters were able to get water on the side of the house quickly and limit the damage. "That's a great save. That's a quick jump to a building lost right there."
Both the barn and the duplex are owned by developer Arnie Martel, Jr., who lives in a second duplex across the Street. According to his wife, Sandy, it was Martel who first spotted the fire from the second floor window of his home.
"He yelled for me to call 911," she said.
According to Hazel, residents of of side of the duplex were home at the time of the fire and were evacuated safely.
While Martel owned the barn, he did not own its contents. The barn was being used for storage by its former owner Tom Cooney, who lives next door. Cooney said the property had been in his family for nearly 100 years before it was sold to Martel. Cooney said the contents of the barn included the chasises for a 1931 Chevy and a Model A Roadster, as well as "all kinds of antique stuff" and family memorabilia.
Cooney's wife, Susan, had been out to lunch with friends and was just arriving home at around 2:15 when Martel flagged her down and pointed out the fire. She quickly called her husband.
The fire spread quickly in the A-fram wooden barn. Firefighters were able to gain control of the blaze fairly quickly but two hours later it was continuing to smolder and flare up. While the roof was nearly completely gone, the front wall and portions of the side walls remained upright. Hazel said the front wall would be torn down before firefighters left the scene to prevent a collapse that could damage the house.
The Tewksbury Fire inspector and the State Fire Marshal were called to the scene and began their investigation. According to Hazel there was no obvious cause or start-point to the fire.
Andover firefighters provided assistance at the scene, while Wilmington and Billerica provided station coverage.