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A lightning strike that occurred during a thunderstorm about 6:15 pm on Wednesday, August 8, resulted in a house fire at a compact Sandy Hook home, triggering an emergency response by all five local volunteer fire companies, plus fire volunteers from Stevenson. Brookfield, Stepney, and Southbury sent crews to standby at local stations.
The lower section of Chestnut Hill Road, between Berkshire and Chestnut Knoll Roads, was closed to through traffic for approximately two hours while firefighters were at the scene.
Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company Chief Bill Halstead, who served as incident commander, said a nearby property owner reported the lightning strike and resulting fire that had occurred in the basement at 29 Chestnut Hill Road. Chief Halstead said the lightning apparently struck some location behind the house, with the high voltage then traveling into the basement, where some of the basement’s contents ignited.
There were no injuries. Chief Halstead described the damage to the insured structure as moderate, including fire, smoke, and water damage.
The fire was reported by neighbors who saw smoke coming from the residence. The residents of the house were away at the time of the incident, but returned after being made aware of the fire, the chief said.
After entering the basement to put out the blaze, firefighters discovered that the flames had entered a wall, so they opened up the basement wall to extinguish all remaining flames, the chief said. They used about 230 gallons of water for firefighting.
The town’s Geographic Information System (GIS) lists the property’s owners as Darby and Catherine Fitzgerald. The single-family Cape-style house was built in 1947.
Also, at 6:11 pm Wednesday, four local fire companies were dispatched to a report of a lightning strike and possible fire at a house at 121 Poverty Hollow Road.
Dodgingtown Fire Chief Steve Murphy, who was incident commander, said that lightning had caused a small fire within an attached garage, where the high voltage damaged a plastic watering can. Residents there were home when the lightning strike occurred and reported the incident, he said.
Firefighters inspected the entire house for any additional fire but found none, he said. Mr Murphy is the deputy fire marshal.
There were no injuries in either incident.