LOWELL -- Police tape surrounded the site Sunday of the fatal fire on Branch Street which killed seven last week.
Officials on scene said while there are plans in place to demolish the totaled structure Tuesday, high winds threatened to knock the building down completely over the weekend. Police officers walked the perimeter of the site Sunday, working to determine the stability of the structure.
Police Capt. Kelly Richardson said his department is waiting to hear back from the state Fire Marshal's office as to what sparked the 3-alarm fire in the early hours of July 10. Richardson said he did not expect results any time soon; a representative for the Middlesex County District Attorney's office could not be reached immediately for comment.
State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan previously said there was a report of fireworks before the blaze, near the complex at 77-85 Branch St., though he insisted it would be too early to say if fireworks factored into the fire. The Lowell Fire Department had responded to 77 Branch St. earlier in the month on July 3 for an alarm activation. Firefighters determined the alarm was set off because of a minor lighting firecrackers in the hallway.
The seven who died in the fire last Thursday have been identified as Torn Sak, and his wife, Ellen Vuong, with three of their five children -- Sayuri Sak, 7, Anthony Sak, 12, and Ryan Sak, 9 -- as well as Tina Christakos, who lived in a separate apartment, and Robert Downs.
Sunday morning, the streets surrounding the apartment complex were empty but many on walked by on sidewalks to look at the charred structure. Several took out their phones to take photos of the striking damage. One woman walked past and said out loud, "Oh my God. How horrible."
Across the street from the complex site on Branch Street, dozens of flowers, stuffed animals and notes were placed in honor of the victims. Jonathan Miller, 54, came by with his fiancée Joy Miller, 53. The two said they used to live in the hallways of the destroyed building, when they were homeless together for 15 years.
As natives of Lowell, they said they've since found housing and plan to marry after 23 years together. The couple both began to cry as Miller placed a single rose with a tiny teddy bear on the sidewalk for the deceased family.
"This is all I could afford today," Miller, said through tears. "I remember the (Sak and Vuong) family. They were always helping us out. ... This is just awful."
To make donations to the victims of the fire, make checks payable to the Branch Street Fire Victims Relief Fund at the Jeanne D'Arc Credit Union, P.O. Box 1238, Lowell, Mass., 01853.
The Wish Project is also accepting donations of clothing and other items for those affected. Donations may be dropped off at 1 Foundry St., Suite A, in Lowell. Questions should be directed to the Wish Project at 978-441-9474. See more at http://blogs.lowellsun.com/policeline/2014/07/10/branch-street-fire-victims/#sthash.2bzIklxc.dpuf.
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