Falmouth fire guts home, displaces residents

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FALMOUTH — It was a somber site at 13 Rockaway Road on Monday afternoon, where four onlookers stood gazing at what was left of a home gutted by fire: a still-standing brick chimney rising above the roof line.

The day before, on May 7, a neighbor from the rural, wooded section of Falmouth heard the sounds of the fire burning and called emergency responders at 2:40 p.m.

Homeowners Kelly Anderson and Andrea L. Vienneau were not at the two-story house when the fire broke out, according to Falmouth Fire Chief Howard Rice Jr. on Monday.

No one was injured in the fire, he said, and the fire marshal’s office is investigating the blaze.

“Something with that much damage, it’s hard to really pinpoint a cause,” Rice said.

The home is insured, he said. Town records show the land and buildings on the plot are assessed for $360,300.

Rice said firefighters were not able to keep the flames from gutting the home – built in 2000 – because of the intensity of the fire . The closest fire hydrant was nine-tenths of a mile away, and when the fire department arrived, the house already was engulfed in flames. Most of the roof was destroyed.

“Part of Falmouth doesn’t have hydrants,” Rice said, in which case, dry hydrants are used.

Using a dry hydrant, water is drawn from another source: a pond, lake, or even a swimming pool. The water is then spewed out through the fire hoses, explained Ed Conlin, division manager for public fire protection for the National Fire Protection Association.

Smoke could be seen from a distance when firefighters arrived, Rice said, causing him to upgrade the status of the fire en route and call in help from nearby  departments to help extinguish the blaze.

In a statement, Rice said a Falmouth police sergeant arrived first on scene and saw flames pouring out of the second floor. Falmouth Fire Capt. Jamie Garvin arrived next. Garvin directed crews to focus on the home’s outside and adjacent garage.

“When Engine 4 arrived on scene, the fire had spread to the woods next to the home. Crews extinguished the woods fire and directed large hose lines to the house. Given the rural location of the house, tankers were brought in to truck the water to the scene from a hydrant on Lakeside Drive. A Portland ladder was set up to pour water on the fire,” the statement said.

Fire departments and crews working with Falmouth and Portland included an engine from Windham and Yarmouth, and tankers from North Yarmouth, Cumberland and Windham. Westbrook and Cumberland crews covered the Falmouth Fire Department’s four stations.

A Disaster Action Team from the American Red Cross of Maine is working with the homeowners to ensure they have food, a safe place to sleep and other essentials, said Ann Kim, director of external relations.

Over the next several days, the Red Cross will remain in contact with them, providing financial assistance and community referrals, as they begin to make their road to recovery.

Lisa D. Connell can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or lconnell@theforecaster.net. Follow Lisa on Twitter: @connell_ld.

No one was injured in a fire that gutted a single-family home at 13 Rockaway Road in Falmouth on May 7.

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