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  1. #1
    Temporarily/No Longer Active dfdex1's Avatar
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    Default Discarded ashes spark blaze, family left homeless

    Discarded ashes spark blaze, family left homeless

    By KATHLEEN McLAUGHLIN

    Staff writer

    DANVERS -- Improperly discarded ashes sparked an early morning blaze that left 11 people homeless yesterday.

    The fire erupted about 2:30 a.m. and quickly spread through a house on Route 114 near the Rosewood office tower. No one in the house was injured.

    A former barn or garage area on the property, located at 308 Andover St., was reduced to a charred skeleton, and the rest of the house was heavily damaged. Fire officials estimate the house sustained about $200,000 in damage.

    A family member explained later that homeowner Bill Bartlett was using the wood stove to heat the barn area while he remodeled it.

    Bartlett discovered the fire at the rear of the house after waking up to the smell of smoke. The flames were already 5 or 6 feet high, said Bill Bartlett, who did not want to discuss details. He tried to use his own extinguisher, but the fire was out of control.

    "Everyone got out safe," said Stephen Bartlett, who owns the house along with Bill and their sister, Joy Bartlett. "We want to thank the police and fire department for all their help."

    Bill Bartlett had cleaned out a wood stove Monday morning, Danvers fire investigator Lt. David DeLuca said. The ashes were dumped over a fence, which was attached to the house near a shed in the backyard. Aided by a strong southwesterly wind, the embers ignited either surrounding debris or the fence itself, fire investigators said.

    Once the siding of the rambling 1800s home caught fire, DeLuca said it didn't take long to spread.

    Two firefighters hurt

    Firefighters met a few problems. Danvers fire Capt. James McPherson hurt his back when he slipped on ice that formed as water ran over the yard and Route 114, Deputy Chief Stephen Prendergast said.

    Firefighter Michael Delisio suffered second-degree burns to his left ear, though he was wearing a protective hood. Both men were recovering at home yesterday. Prendergast said he was still trying to determine how Delisio was burned.

    Neighbors and the first official on the scene, Danvers Patrolman Peter Shabowich, reported hearing an explosion just before the fire began to spread. Prendergast said it might have been caused by one of the propane tanks left outside the house, or from a chemical used in welding.

    A neighbor said the Bartletts often fix and sell cars. Three trucks and one car bearing a "for sale" sign were still parked in the yard yesterday. Others had been moved to make way for fire trucks.

    Firefighters also had difficulty with one hydrant, the one nearest the house. Prendergast said it was stuck and couldn't be opened in time to be of use. That didn't delay firefighters' efforts, he said, because they turned to another hydrant on Route 114.

    "The guys made a great try to save the ... home," DeLuca said. "Unfortunately, it just didn't work out."

    Firefighters spent about 45 minutes inside the house, pulling ceilings apart in an effort to reach the fire in the attic, DeLuca said. They eventually had to leave the building and fight the fire from the roof.

    A family split up

    Melissa Bartlett, 18, was staying with a friend Monday night and learned about the loss from her mother, Judith Bartlett.

    "Everything in our house is gone," she said.

    Bartlett said her mother was awake in the main part of the house and smelled smoke before it reached detectors. She grabbed her 5-year-old daughter, Brianna, and awakened four others inside.

    The rest of the 11-member extended family was not home.

    Melissa Bartlett said she expects her family will rebuild the home, where they've lived for five years.

    "We've always lived together," she said.

    The family was scattered after the fire. Bartlett said her mother, father and sisters were staying with a grandmother. She is staying with a friend, and her cousin is staying with his girlfriend's parents. She wasn't sure where her aunt and uncle would be temporarily.

    Red Cross workers were on the scene yesterday, and they handed out $100 cash vouchers. Those who escaped had only their night clothes.

    Route 114 was blocked until about 6:30 a.m., and word of the fire spread quickly.

    Men who usually see Bill Bartlett at the Route 114 Dunkin' Donuts rushed up to the scene as soon as they heard the news, said April Miller, a friend who lives across the street.

    Miller said she and her husband hoped Bartlett and his family wouldn't have to move. "He's the friendliest person in the neighborhood," she said.


  2. #2
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    Bill Bartlett had cleaned out a wood stove Monday morning, Danvers fire investigator Lt. David DeLuca said. The ashes were dumped over a fence, which was attached to the house near a shed in the backyard. Aided by a strong southwesterly wind, the embers ignited either surrounding debris or the fence itself, fire investigators said.
    It's astounding to me how many fires we do like this. There seems to be (at least in North Jersey) a widespread ignorance of the proper and safe operation, maintenance and use of solid fuel appliances.

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber mtnfireguy's Avatar
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    Ours seems to be cleaning out the fireplace, putting the ashes in a cardboard box and leaving it on the wood deck.

    Favorite stunt of college students....
    Buckle Up, Slow Down, Arrive Alive
    "Everybody Goes Home"

    IACOJ 2003

  4. #4
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    At least people around know how to take care of the ashes. The problem people are the ones who use their fireplace once a year at Christmas time. Through in tons of paper and light, next thing you know we have a chimney fire. All they have to do is spend $20 to clean the chimney and you are fine.

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