5-alarm fire ravages Lawrence mill building

Lawrence firefighters are battling a five-alarm blaze at an old mill building, officials said.

The fire is at the Merrimac Paper Co. building at 9 South Canal St., said Kate Reilly, special assistant to Mayor Daniel Rivera.

No injuries have been reported as of late this afternoon, said Reilly.

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State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said the building was abandoned. He said fire investigators had been called to the scene.

The Lawrence department is getting help from Dracut, North Andover, Methuen, Lowell, and Salem, N.H. at the scene, with help covering stations from Methuen, Haverhill, and North Reading, Reilly said.

Reilly said there was no risk to nearby businesses. The building is in an area of rundown buildings on a small segment of land between the canal and the Merrimack River.

Reilly said the fire may get worse before firefighters are able to get it under control because there are not many access points into the building.

Rudolfo DeJesus, owner of Advanced Auto Sales, which is across the canal from the burning building, watched as the fire rapidly spread.

“We see just a little flame from the window and a few minutes later, it was incredible,” he said. “I only see that in the movies.”

DeJesus said police closed the street out front and a crowd of onlookers had gathered to watch the spectacle.

Lawrence police posted pictures on their Twitter account of fire billowing out of the windows of the building.