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Newtown firefighters save home hit by lighting

August 9, 2018

NEWTOWN - The quick work of volunteer firefighters and an observant neighbor saved a home that was apparently struck by lighting as storms rolled through the area Wednesday.

Authorities said they were called to the single-family home on Chesnut Hill Road Wednesday after a neighbor saw lighting strike near the house.

“Apparently they saw some white smoke and thought it was steam, but when it turned black they immediately called 911,” said Sandy Hook Fire and Rescue Chief William Halstead. “When we arrived we found smoke conditions and a small fire in the basement.”

While firefighters quickly extinguisher the fire in the basement, they noticed that the flames had entered one of the wall bays and was rapidly spreading to the first floor. The home, which was built in the 1940’s, has a “balloon” style construction that allows fires to spread quickly from one floor to the next.

The construction method was popular in the early 20th century because it required less experience labor to build, but more modern houses now have fire codes that prevent large open areas inside the walls where fire can travel.

“Luckily the fire had only entered one bay in the walls, and the firefighters broke through the bay both from the outside of the home and from the inside to get to the flames,” Halstead said. “We stopped the fire near the kitchen but it could have easily spread to the second floor.”

Halstead said the owners of the home were away on vacation at time, but arrived home Wednesday before firefighters left the scene. The homeowners were staying with family in area and didn’t require assistance from the American Red Cross, Halstead said.

dperrefort@newstimes.com

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