Sophie Reardon

Historic Smokestack to Be Demolished After Lightning Strike

Nearly 150 residents are being evacuated after lightning struck the L.H. Hamel Leather Company smokestack in Haverhill Sunday afternoon.

According to the Red Cross, crews assisted residents at the Hamel Mill Lofts at 40 Locke Street Sunday.

They are being evacuated due to safety concerns. Officials believe that the smokestack, which has a crack down the middle, may fall onto the apartment building.

The Red Cross says the smokestack will have to be torn down Monday. For now, officials have roped off the "collapse zone" — the area where they believe the stack will fall if it does collapse overnight.

Locals are upset that the historic, 100-year-old smokestack is coming down. They say the stack is a symbol of their hometown pride.

"It's just the quintessential New England to see those," one resident said.

But people are finding comfort in the fact that nothing else was damaged and no one was hurt.

"Not a single car was damaged, nobody got injured, nothing was damaged. It was like God was sitting right here and watching out for everybody when it happened," a resident said.

The incident occurred late Sunday afternoon during one of the storms that blew through the area.

Residents will be allowed back in once the stack has been demolished, officials said.

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