HARTLAND, Maine — “If it wasn’t for that kid, that garage would be gone,” said Darren Domonski of Tyler Patrick Hughes, an 8-year-old from Palmyra.
About 7 p.m. Tuesday, the boy was outside Darren’s Village Auto Sales Inc. — a garage on Main Street in Palmyra where his stepfather, Eric Hanson, was welding — when a fire started inside the building.
“All I saw was flames coming out by the shop,” said Hughes. “Eric yelled, ‘Get out of there, get out of there.’ I went to get Darren.”
Hughes ran about one-third of a mile to Domonski’s house, but he wasn’t there.
“I was at a neighbor’s house. He ran by there and went to my house and then came back and got me at the neighbor’s house,” said Domonski. “He said, ‘Darren, your garage is on fire.’ I go, ‘Really?’ He said, ‘Yes. Go!’ We were all freaking out and he was cool and collected.
“We flew up there and I was like, ‘Oh, my God,’” said Domonski. “Thirty more seconds and that would’ve been it.”
For his effort, Hughes was presented with an award from Christopher McCrillis, a Newport police officer and school resource officer for RSU 19, in front of about 150 of his classmates at Hartland Consolidated School on Thursday morning.
Domonski said Hughes’ quick thinking helped keep fire damage to a minimum.
Domonski was able to quickly round up a few friends to battle the fire with extinguishers and water.
“The whole ceiling was just fire,” said Shawn Manchester, who helped battle the flames.
“Every single timber in that building was burned that far in,” said Domonski, holding his fingers about an inch apart.
The single-bay garage had fire damage to all its walls and the vinyl siding above the door melted. On Thursday, a customer’s car sat outside — destroyed.
“The car was on the lift. These lifts are supersafe to keep the car up,” said Domonski. “The car was on fire. If I didn’t get it out of the building, [the garage] would’ve been gone.”
Domonski said there was a hole in the air hose that releases the lift and the power wasn’t working for it.
“I took out my Leatherman and I cut the wires going to the lift. I cut it and barred the wires back,” he said.
Domonski said he put the 220-volt wires into the 110-volt extension cord to attempt to get the lift down.
“The thing was electrocuting me and the lift was electrocuting me because I was all wet,” said Domonski. “The window was burned out the back of the car and flames were coming out of it. If we didn’t get the car down, [the garage] would’ve all been gone.”
Manchester and Domonski were able to get the lift down and the car out of the garage.
Hartland, Detroit, Pittsfield and Newport fire crews fought the fire and were able to put it out. Nobody was hurt.
Domonski said the garage wasn’t insured.