Nine others were taken to Lowell General Hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Authorities say close to 50 people lived in the building.
A police officer on routine patrol was the first to report the fire just before 4 a.m., while several tenants ran about 100 yards down the street to the nearest fire station.
Lowell Mayor Rodney M. Elliott says officials do their best to inspect all of the city's units, and that records are currently being pulled on this building.
“My dog woke me up. I knocked the door, get the kids out, grabbed the dog, I tried to go in the front but the door was kind of hot, you know. You can’t touch it, so I went through the back,” said Bunthy Chantha who survived the fire.
“I heard a little girl cry out for help,” said Sarin Chun, a witness of the blaze. “I thought it was in my dream because it was 3:30 in the morning- my brother comes running into my room saying there’s a fire and I see a big flame and the little girl get dropped from the window to save her life.”
Those who were able to escape the fire have been brought to a shelter at the Lowell Senior Center. The American Red Cross is on the scene
"It's a tragic day for the city of Lowell," said Elliott.
One fire captain sustained a leg injury while battling the blaze, officials said.
The cause and origin of the fire remains under investigation.
A Branch Street fire fund has been set up. Donations can be sent to the Jeanne D'Arc Credit Union.
Lowell is a city of more than 100,000 residents located about 25 miles northwest of Boston.
"I share in the tremendous grief felt by our community today. My thoughts and prayers go out to those lost in the tragic Lowell fire and their families. The gratitude of the entire city goes out to the firefighters and first responders who have been working the scene since early this morning. I appreciate that state and local authorities have acted quickly and have already announced a thorough investigation. I will remain in communication with them to provide any assistance I can and to ensure that they have all of the support that they need."
- Congresswoman Niki Tsongas