Shortly before midnight on February 21, the Beverly Fire Department Dive Rescue Team was dispatched to the Town of Danvers for a report of a motor vehicle into the river off Water St in the Danversport area. Upon arrival, divers were able to determine that the vehicle’s operator was safely out of the vehicle, but the vehicle was submerged in an undetermined location. Danvers Police and Fire officials on scene gave the divers information that pointed to the vehicle leaving the roadway and immediately being pushed by a strong current under a bridge. It was not immediately known if the vehicle had completely cleared the bridge or if it was stuck underneath.
Extremely cold temperatures coupled with the dangerous current in the area forced divers to delay the initial dive for approximately 20 minutes when they could take advantage of a slack tide with minimal water flow. When the current slowed, Diver Steven Grant was able to make a search underneath the bridge and at the bottom on either side of the bridge in the immediate area. The vehicle was not in any of those locations. As Firefighter Grant finished his sweeps under the bridge, the outgoing tide picked up and diving in the area once again became a hazard. Grant was removed from the water and the operation was moved to the inland side of the bridge where the vehicle would have been deposited.
Divers assisted by Danvers Firefighters and Police Officers moved the equipment to the inland area on the property of Eastern Propane to conduct two additional searches. The searches covered the area of water inside the bridge where the current was not too strong. During one of the searches, the vehicles bumper was found with the license plate still attached. Diver Barry Lefavour made the discovery leading divers to believe they were in the right area, but the dive was called off due to extreme temperatures and the hazards presented by the increasing current.
The night of the first dive, the air temperature was 11 degrees and the water was 33 degrees. Diver Grant had approximately 10 feet of visibility in 14 feet of water. Diver Lefavour had visibility ranging from 10 to 3 feet in water ranging from 8-20 feet.
The morning of February 23, the Beverly Fire Department Dive Team continued the search taking advantage of low tide and additional information about the contour of the land under the water on the inland side of the bridge. Divers Steve Grant and Dean Julien entered the water at approximately 0850 and located the car within three minutes of initiating the dive. The vehicle was resting on its roof in approximately 20 feet of water. The divers performed a quick search of the vehicle, marked it and were removed from the water until a large tow truck arrived to remove the vehicle.
Once the tow truck was on scene, Divers Julien and Grant reentered the water to hook up straps and chains to a long cable that the tow truck used to pull the vehicle from the water. The divers were assisted by Firefighter Sean Murray who worked from an inflatable raft to get the divers and equipment out to the submerged vehicle, Firefighter Jon Palm who managed cables and equipment on shore, Firefighter Barry Lefavour who acted as a backup diver, Robert Atherton, Jeff Sirois and Mike Acciavatti who managed the incident.
Conditions on the 23rd were markedly improved over the dive Monday night. Besides the addition of sunlight, divers had air temperatures near 30 and visibility of 5-10 feet.
At 0759 on February 18, Truck 1 was dispatched for a report of a motor vehicle / pedestrian accident in the area of Bridge and River St’s. Truck 1, responding from a previous call on Lothrop St, arrived within 3 minutes. Upon arrival, Capt. Paul Labelle and his crew found a woman being tended to by Beverly Police Officers and an off duty nurse. The victim was showing signs of significant head injuries and a Medflight helicopter was requested. While T-1 worked with crews from Northeast Regional Ambulance, Beverly Police and Lyons Ambulance on Bridge St, Truck 2 was dispatched to the helipad at Beverly Hospital to stand by for the incoming helicopter. The patient was transferred to the helicopter and all units were clear of both scenes at 0837.
At 0410 on February 13, the Beverly Fire Department was dispatched to a report of smoke in the house at 27 Brackenbury Ln. Upon arrival, firefighters found the fire alarms sounding with a light smoke condition throughout the first and second floors. The homeowner was attempting to slow fire that was advancing behind a wall by throwing water into a vent where some could be seen coming from the ceiling. Crews immediately asked the homeowner to exit with his family and pet then began to search for the fire.
Two hose lines were advanced into the home with Truck 1 and Car 4 taking a line to the first floor and Engine 3 on the second. While Lt. Donald O’Connor and FF Jeff O’Neil checked the second floor, Captain Paul Labelle, Lt. Kevin Smith and Firefighters Palm and Perkins breached a brick wall to uncover an intense fire burning the wooden structure in the space between the brick veneer wall and the chimney.
The heavy fire was knocked down quickly and firefighters checked for additional fire spread throughout the building.
Firefighters Brian Miller, Ross McCulloch and Brian Mahan checked the attic and basement of the home for fire extension and assisted with overhaul and debris removal.
The cause of the fire was investigated by Beverly Fire Lieutenant Robert Bergeron. After interviewing the homeowner and viewing the scene, it was determined that a fire inside the chimney was able to extend to the wooden structure through mortar joints. The fire consumed plywood sheathing and wood wall studs before firefighters could extinguish the fire. Firefighters also had to dismantle a portion of the chimney in order to get at smoldering debris.
There was an operating wood burning that acted as the source of the heat that eventually caused the fire. The homeowner reported smelling an “acrid” odor approximately 15 minutes prior to calling the Fire Department but did not see any visible signs of a problem. A second inspection, as the odor worsened uncovered smoke coming from the ceiling above the wood stove. Although the smoke detectors in the house were operational, they did not immediately sound because the fire was burning in a hidden void within the walls. As the smoke pushed out of the walls and ceiling, the alarms began to sound.
Firefighters from Salem assisted at the scene and crews from Manchester, Danvers and Wenham covered Beverly Stations.
There were no injuries and all personnel were clear of the scene by 0839.
The Building Inspector also responded to assess the damage. Fire and water damage was moderate to the home and firefighters estimated that $125,000 damage was done.
On Sunday January 31,2011 over 20 members of the Beverly High Varsity Hockey team heeded the call. The team showed immense community spirit shoveling buried fire hydrants.Led by Coach Gilligan the Team split into groups and covered different areas of the city.Digging and searching for hydrants the team was able to clean up many hydrants the short-staffed Fire Department were not able to get too.The Fire Department would like to thank them for their service. We would also like to thank the Beverly Water Department and the citizens who took the time to shovel the fire hydrants in their area.