Fire that leveled Lebanon home blamed on improper disposal of a cigarette

By Liz Markhlevskaya, Foster's Daily Democrat
Posted July 17, 2012, at 5:27 a.m.

LEBANON, Maine — The improper disposal of a cigarette is being blamed for a t hree-alarm fire that destroyed a home on Windswept Drive on Friday evening.

The fire sent three firefighters to the hospital with injuries.

Fire officials said an individual looking after the home while the owners were away was responsible for the improper disposal, causing the fire at 56 Windswept Drive in West Lebanon.

Investigators consider the fire accidental and no criminal charges will be filed.

Around 5:30 p.m. Friday, a neighbor reported that a house at 56 Windswept Drive was half involved in a fire and she heard an explosion. The caller, a resident of 70 Windswept Drive, stated no one was home at the house on fire.

Fire and rescue crews were just cleared from a traffic accident and were already on the road when the call came in.

While en route to the scene, fire officials saw a large column of black smoke and requested a first alarm, according to the fire department.

Around 5:45 p.m., Lebanon Engine 2 was the first to arrive on scene, and reported a one-story wooden frame structure fully involved in flames, with exposure to propane and a vehicle. Shortly after, a second alarm was requested in order to get more manpower to the scene, fire officials say.

With hot weather conditions, a third alarm was called to bring in more manpower to the scene.

Three firefighters were transported to Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.H., for injuries resulting from battling the fire, said Assistant Rescue Chief Jason Cole.

“The firefighters did a great job knocking down the fire quickly,” said Cole. “It was tough watching them in their turnout gear and carrying over 80 pounds of equipment in this heat. Our biggest concern was their safety and making sure they were OK throughout the entire event. Everyone worked together very well and even with the heat, everyone did a great job.”

In addition to the three injured firefighters who were transported to Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester, more than a dozen firefighters were treated on scene by paramedics for heat exhaustion and other related injuries.

Efforts to extinguish the fire were severely hindered by the ranch home’s remote location.

“The long narrow road made our efforts much more difficult,” said Cole.

He estimated firefighters used roughly 1,000 feet of hose to reach the home, located as much as 200 yards down a long dirt road.

Due to the heat and humidity, an ambulance from North Berwick was also requested to the scene and a rehab crew from Frisbie Memorial Hospital responded to assist with making sure the firefighters stayed hydrated and checked them after they came out of the building.

Although the fire was declared to be under control at 6:30 p.m., several small fires along with heavy smoke were still visible shortly past 7 p.m. Firetrucks and ambulances were still rushing to the scene around 7:15 p.m.

Only sections of the home’s walls remained standing in the fire’s wake, which destroyed the interior of the home.

Friday’s fire drew response from Lebanon Fire and Rescue departments, as well as fire crews from Acton, Alfred, Shapleigh, Sanford, Berwick, North Berwick and South Berwick. The Wells Fire Department provided station coverage for Lebanon Central Station during the incident.

Several New Hampshire fire departments also responded, including Milton, Rochester, Farmington, Middleton and Somersworth.

Fire crews were on scene until 10:25 p.m. Friday.

(c)2012 the Foster’s Daily Democrat (Dover, N.H.)

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http://bangordailynews.com/2012/07/17/news/portland/fire-that-leveled-lebanon-home-blamed-on-improper-disposal-of-a-cigarette/ printed on July 30, 2014