AYER -- State and local fire officials are investigating the cause of a two-alarm fire at 7 Union Street, at the intersection of Shirley Street, that sent two people to the hospital.
The call reporting the fire came in at about 6:45 a.m. on Tuesday, said Fire Chief Robert Pedrazzi. Two people were transported to Nashoba Valley Medical Center for smoke inhalation.
At the scene on Tuesday morning, building owner Bill White said three people live in the building. His son, who lives on the first floor, was not home at the time.
Pedrazzi said one woman on the third floor escaped through a window and fell onto the fire escape, where firefighters rescued her. He said there was too much smoke for her to come down the stairs.
The other woman on the second floor, which is level with Shirley Street, came out through the main door.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, Pedrazzi said, but it appears the fire originated on the second floor.
The call came in from a house on Union Street. Ayer received help from Shirley, Devens, Littleton and Lunenburg fire departments, Pedrazzi said.
Several cats in the building didn't survive, he said, but two that were still alive were taken out and given oxygen masks. They were later transported to a vet in Harvard.
He said he had no idea how the other cats died.
"When you have a fire like that, it gets super heated in there," he said.