Home Fire News Massive fire at former Danvers State Hospital

Massive fire at former Danvers State Hospital

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An early morning fire destroyed eight buildings at the site of the former Danvers State Hospital, a favorite destination of ghost hunting thrill seekers before developers began building apartments and condominiums. The four-alarm blaze atop a large hill overlooking Danvers began at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, sending flames hundreds of feet into the air, visible for miles.

Four unfinished apartment buildings and four utility buildings were destroyed, officials said. More than 20 residents living in new apartments on the 75-acre property were evacuated. No serious injuries were reported.

The cause was under investigation.

“We wouldn’t leap to the thought that there were multiple fires set here — that will be part of the investigation as we go forward — but again the indication from the firefighters is that it had a tremendous head start,” state Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said.

The estimated loss wasn’t immediately known.

It opened in 1878 as the State Lunatic Hospital and closed in 1992. AvalonBay Communities Inc. bought the property for $18 million in late 2005, knocked down many buildings and began constructing 497 luxury apartments and condominiums.

In the five years before AvalonBay bought it, State Police charged 150 people and issued warnings to an additional 450 people for trespassing.

Interest intensified after the Victorian Gothic facility was the centerpiece of the 2001 horror film “Session 9,” starring David Caruso.

AvalonBay is based in Alexandria, Va. An after-hours call to the company wasn’t immediately returned Saturday.

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