A Marlborough woman safely escaped her Libby Street home with her three dogs yesterday after a fire badly damaged the basement and filled the neighborhood with smoke.
Linda Powazinik said she was cooking in the kitchen when the basement of her one-story 27 Libby St. house caught on fire late yesterday afternoon.
Powazinik said she had candles burning, but wasn't sure whether they had started the fire.
"I'm sure it is damaged, I have no idea (how badly)," she said while clutching her white Bichon, Shaggy.
Marlborough firefighter Shawn Brecken with the department's fire investigation unit said the fire has been ruled accidental, possibly sparked by candles, "but we're not 100 percent sure."
Brecken said the fire started in a sitting area in the cellar near a cabinet.
Her dog Copper trembled at her feet, while a blanket-clad cocker spaniel, Autumn, tucked its head in the arms of a friend.
Powazinik said she couldn't call 911 because her phone was dead, but neighbors had alerted the Marlborough Fire Department.
Neighbors offered her their cell phones and stood beside her as they watched firemen go in and out of the charred front hallway that was visible from an open storm door.
Deputy Fire Chief Stan Clement said there was a second resident who was not at home, and that both had arranged a place to stay since they would not be able to enter the house.
(Lindsey Parietti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org