SALEM, N.H. (CBS) – A restaurant and several apartments were destroyed in a huge fire in Salem, New Hampshire Wednesday morning that left two firefighters hurt.

Flames broke out around 5:30 a.m. inside the China Star restaurant on Main Street.

fire Fire Destroys Salem, NH Restaurant And Apartments

Flames tore through the restaurant and apartments Wednesday morning. (Photo credit: Salem, NH Police)

The fire department says there were ten apartments above, but all 17 residents escaped safely before the building collapsed.

However, Fire Lt. Chris Hamilton and firefighter PJ Comeau were inside searching to see if anyone was trapped when a ceiling fell on them. A wood beam came down and struck both of them, one in the head, the other in the back.  Fortunately they were able to pull each other out of the building. They were taken to Holy Family Hospital, treated and released.

There’s no word yet on how or where the fire started.

salem2 Fire Destroys Salem, NH Restaurant And Apartments

The rubble of the China Star restaurant on Main Street. (WBZ-TV)

“When I heard that there was a fire there I was like, ‘Oh my God,’ because that’s such an old building.  That’s been there for a long time,” Salem resident Edie Beede told WBZ-TV.

“It was up in flames, there was nothing but brown, black smoke.  You could see the orange flames from where I work, right over there, up over the bank,” said resident Julie Cameron, “Awful.”

Cameron spoke to the restaurant owner after the fire.

“I saw him this morning. He said that he saw it on the news, and that’s how he found out. Nobody called to tell him, he just heard it on the news,” she said.

“I love Salem and to see some tragedy like this, it’s sad. Sad for everybody that’s involved in it,” said Beede.



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