(CNN/WBZ) – Firefighters from more than 50 surrounding towns were called in to battle the huge blaze. Among the buildings on fire, an apartment building filled with residents, some asleep at midnight.
Sean Stewart and his roommate were on the second floor; “In our apartment hallway, once I opened the door, there was quite a lot of smoke. Saw elderly tenants above coming down, so I grabbed my roommate and got out.”
The Portsmouth Fire Chief said one resident had to be pulled out of a window because his hallway was filled with smoke and flames. One firefighter said, “Seemed like he closed the doors, made it to the window, and got out after the fire crews made it over for the ladder rescue.”
Everyone was out when the building caved in and collapsed. At daybreak, all that was left of 268 State Street was rubble.
A lot of people were overcome with emotion; among them was Eli Sokorelis, the owner of the iconic local restaurant, The State Street Saloon. There’s nothing left of the restaurant many called a landmark. He said, “I didn’t realize how important it was to a lot of people, important to me and my employees, but important to the community itself you know.”