Lightning strike likely cause of Falmouth house fire

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FALMOUTH — Fire officials believe lightning caused a fire that severely damaged a home on the Windham border Saturday night.

A press release from the Falmouth Fire-EMS Department said the fire at 202 Rockaway Road was first noticed by neighbors who smelled smoke and saw fire on the second floor shortly after 5 p.m. Aug. 15. A thunderstorm had just passed through.

No injuries were reported, although the house sustained major fire, smoke and water damage, according to the press release. According to the town’s assessment office, the home is owned by Christopher and Sarah Esmond, and the total property is valued at nearly $341,000.

Assistant Fire Chief Jay Hallett said the exact cause of the fire won’t be known until the state fire marshall’s office completes its investigation, although they suspect lightning. No one was home at the time of the fire.

“One of the neighbors heard a loud crack and half an hour later started smelling smoke,” Hallett said.

Hallett, who was the commanding official on the scene, said crews left around 11:30 p.m. The fire originated in living quarters that were over the garage and spread into the main part of the home.

He said it was a difficult fire to extinguish because of the rural location, and since it was a late Saturday evening, a lot of firefighters were out of town.

“We had a good crew, but did have to call some out-of-town apparatus to supplement our crews,” he said.

Windham and Falmouth crews were dispatched on the initial call, and after an additional alarm was sounded, all Falmouth trucks were called along with trucks from Westbrook. Yarmouth and North Yarmouth were also called to provide additional personnel.

Tankers from Falmouth, Windham, North Yarmouth and Freeport brought water from a hydrant in nearby Windham.

Portions of Rockaway Road had to be closed to allow the tanker trucks to shuttle water.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or