More than a dozen people in Salem fled from a burning building Wednesday morning as a fast-spreading fire sent two firefighters to a hospital.
Thirteen of the building's 17 residents were home just after 5:30 a.m. when an alarm alerted firefighters to the fire at 80 Main St. Fire officials credited working smoke detectors with giving the residents enough time to escape.
"We arrived in under two minutes," Fire Chief Paul Parisi said. "The companies had heavy smoke and fire showing from the building."
The fire destroyed the China Star restaurant, a vape shop and 10 apartments. Parisi said the fire spread quickly, nearly trapping two firefighters.
"They were in fear of being overrun by fire," he said.
The firefighters escaped and were taken to a hospital as a precautionary measure. They were released later Wednesday morning.
Investigators said they believe the fire started in the kitchen of the China Star restaurant. It is not considered suspicious.
"I started coughing as soon as I opened the door," resident Ludwin Zurita said. "I felt really strong the smoke in my chest and everything."
Zurita was in a second-floor apartment with his wife and three children. He said he didn't see flames initially, but the smoke made the halls nearly impassable.
"Really bad smoke," he said. "I had to take my shirt off and put it on my face so I could go down the stairs."
Resident Phillip Momah said he didn't even have time to grab a pair of shoes as he fled. He said he has now lost everything, including one thing that's irreplaceable.
"It's pretty emotional for me, because I lost my dad last year, and the only picture I have of him is in the apartment right now," he said.
The Red Cross is helping the people who lived in the building.