While the fire department is being congratulated and thanked for their considerable efforts in saving the buildings, they do have their detractors.
It is beginning to appear that the fire department is coming under increasing heat in the street for the way it ALLEGEDLY allowed the fire to climb through the second floor ceiling above the Asylum store where it started, into the third floor, up onto the roof, and then in through two windows looking out of the Gummer building onto the roof of the Asylum building. Once inside the Gummer building the fire devoured the fourth floor and spread through the roof and into the brick building behind Stelle.
That brick building is unsalvageable.
The photo below shows the roof-line of the Asylum and the fourth floor of the Gummer six or seven hours later hours after the fire got into the building.
photo by Downtown Lynn
The stone walls between the Gummer and the Asylum building prevented the fire from entering the Gummer on the second and third floors. At the front of the building only the fourth floor of the Gummer was fire damaged, the lower floors however are severely water and smoke damaged.
People who were on Douglas and Wyndham streets AND OTHERS WHO WERE IN OR ON BUILDINGS on Thursday morning in the A.M. say they were surprised that the fire department wasn't more aggressive with their fire fighting, and that the firemen APPEARED TO THEM to be 'milling about' outside the building AND APPEARED TO BE operating on the assumption that they had put the fire out. The Gummer building wasn't effected at all at that point because of the stone walls, but nor - IT IS ALLEGED - was it soaked with water as a precaution. The department's highest ladder was in the shop for repairs, which may have complicated things.
An hour or so after having watched the fire above the Asylum and the firemen ALLEGEDLY 'milling about' on the street, the people I spoke to say they came back to the site to discover that the Gummer building was blazing.
It seems that a number of people have been discussing these facts for two days now and are profoundly unhappy with the fire department.
The actual sequence of events that led to the spread of the fire has yet to be detailed. Neither has the cause of the fire been made known.
I heard a lot of unkind things said about the department today, and that just makes this whole scenario that much more distressing. And yet, just because it is distressing to think about doesn't make it impossible. And the act of risking ones life in a job doesn't mean human error can't happen. The question is, did it.