Thursday morning Ronald Trapasso saw smoke coming from the windows above the porch at his next door neighbor's house.
The cars in their driveway were gone and the kids, he figured, were at school, but he hollered "fire" and for anyone inside to come out.
No answer. He called 911 and made a second trip to the house next door, the Ghirardinis.
He opened the door and stepped in to see if he could locate the family pets, a dog and a cat.
He heard a whooshing noise and backed out of the house, he said.
Police and firefighters arrived to 50 Andrew Road about 9:15 a.m. Thursday.
Firefighters entered that same front door and started pounding the blaze with water from a tanker, said Swampscott Deputy Chief James Potts.
Soon that water ran out. And the nearest hydrant was frozen, so, without water, the fire command pulled back the firefighters and the operation switched to hooking up lines to area hydrants, two of which were on Paradise Road, he said.
It cost minutes of firefighting, minutes that seemed like an eternity, the deputy chief said.
Fire can double in size in 30 seconds, according to some estimates.
Firefighters returned and soon surrounded the house, pounding it with water and fighting it from all sides.
The department received valuable help from neighboring departments including Lynn, Marblehead, Beverly, Salem, Nahant, and Revere on a bitter cold morning, the deputy fire chief said.
The second time the fire command pulled back firefighters was when the home's ridge pole burned up — the main beam supporting the roof in the 1910 house.
They continued their attack from the outside and soon returned through windows and the front door to fight inside and get into the partitions to chase down the fire.
Two Swampscott firefighters were injured and, per protocol, transported to the hospital for treatment, the deputy chief said.
One firefighter injured his hand and the other firefighter injured a shoulder. The injuries did not appear to be major.
Firefighters remained on the scene for much of the afternoon.
Fire investigators later determined the blaze was accidental and originated on the home's stove.
It's unknown whether the stove was left on or the family's dog hit it and turned it on.
The dog was killed in the fire.
As of later yesterday the deputy chief did not know the fate of the family cat.
Their rabbits, in a cage outside the house, were saved.
As the sun was going down, a demolition crew was entering the house and the owner was trying to salvage a few personal momentos.
Peter and Laura Ghirardini and their four children, ages 8, 10 (twins) and 14, are staying with friends in town.
Neighbors gathered around Peter Ghirardini, offering help.
A bank account is being set up at Salem Five Bank in Swampscott to help the family.
The Ghirardini Family Fund will be ready to accept contributions by noon Friday, said Laura DeMartino, sister of Peter Ghirardini.
Peter's sister and their father are setting up the account.
The money will help the Ghirardinis with longterm needs that house insurance will not cover.
To drop off cash or a check you may do so in person at the Salem Five Bank, located at 450 Paradise Road (781-593-7918).