NOTE: This is an updated and expanded version of a story first reported on Sunday, November 26, 2017.
By John Voket & Andrew Gorosko
The town’s five volunteer fire companies, along with Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps, responded to a stubborn and smoky structure fire reported at about 1:12 pm on Sunday, November 26, in Sandy Hook, at the Brennan residence at 2-A Fir Tree Lane.
Fir Tree Lane is a dead end street that extends from Berkshire Road, near Curtis Pond.
Upon arrival, volunteer firefighters found a wheelchair-bound elderly woman outside the building who was apparently safe, and then proceeded to concentrate initial efforts on the lower level, where the fire had started in the contemporary-style raised-ranch house.
Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company Chief Bill Halstead said that Newtown Hook & Ladder firefighter Brian Manna had been passing through the area when he noticed that the house was afire. Mr Manna reported the fire and then went to the scene where he found the elderly woman in her wheelchair outside the house.
The woman had wheeled herself out from a walk-out apartment after discovering that the building was on fire, Chief Halstead said.
Mr Manna moved the woman farther away from the burning house and her neighbors then tended to her, according to Chief Halstead. The woman was the only person at home, he said, noting that two other residents were away at the time of the incident. The residents are now staying elsewhere, because the heavily damaged house is not habitable.
As teams of firefighters doused the flames, others took to the roof, while several others headed inside wearing full air packs to search and begin assessing the upper-level interior.
An estimated 55 firefighters from the five local fire companies worked to minimize the loss. The firefighters used approximately 5,000 gallons of water to put out the fire. They shuttled water to the scene in fire tankers that refilled their tanks at a fire hydrant on Turnberry Lane.
Fire Marshal Richard Frampton and Deputy Fire Marshal Steve Murphy were both at the scene inspecting the aftermath.
Traffic on adjacent Berkshire Road (Route 34) was backed up in both directions for quite some time as Sandy Hook Fire Police permitted a few vehicles at a time to pass the scene. A detour was eventually set up for traffic traveling westbound on Berkshire Road, while eastbound motorists were allowed to slowly pass through the scene.
Eversource emergency crews were contacted to cut power to the residence, but had not arrived on scene approximately an hour after the call for assistance, long after Chief Halstead deemed the incident under control and began releasing other local fire companies back to their stations.
Chief Halstead said that one Sandy Hook firefighter was injured at the fire in mishap involving a fire hose. The town physician checked that firefighter the following day, the fire chief said.
Mr Frampton said the accidental fire caused at least $150,000 of damage to the insured house. The fire of undetermined origin started either in or near a boiler room, which was situated inside the garage. The one vehicle that was parked in the two-bay garage was destroyed by the fire. The building does not have structural damage, Mr Frampton said.
Public records show the home was constructed in 1983, and was occupied by its current owner Annemarie Brennan in 2009.
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