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Pet sharks survive fire that damages Enfield home

Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN
Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN
Lowell Fire Department firefighter John Herlihy peers into an attic space at 766 Dodlin Road in Enfield on Monday, Sept. 2, 2013.
By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff

ENFIELD, Maine — A spark from soldered pipes ignited a fire that heavily damaged an Enfield house late Monday. No injuries were reported, and the flames never came near the homeowner’s pet sharks, firefighters said Tuesday.

The father of homeowner Richard Kuhaneck was renovating an upstairs bathroom at 766 Dodlin Road when he went outside briefly. He saw smoke and flames when he returned, Lowell Fire Chief Rick Smart said.

The man, whose name was unavailable, didn’t know if his son was home, Smart said. He searched the house quickly before heading to a neighbor’s house to report the fire. The 911 call came in at about 7:50 p.m., a Penobscot Regional Communications Center dispatcher said.

When Smart arrived several minutes later, no flames were visible, but the fire had spread so quickly into adjoining bedrooms that windows blew out on the west side of the house, the fire chief said.

Firefighters say that people should always call 911 immediately, but the house, which was under renovation, had no telephone, Smart said.

“It was probably the best thing he could have done: to search real quick and then go,” Smart said. “If he had gone up to call and come back, they [anyone who might have been in the house] could have been hurt by smoke inhalation or the fire.”

The two-story house is salvageable, Smart said as Burlington, Lincoln, Lowell, Passadumkeag and Seboeis Plantation doused most of the flames in about 15 minutes. They stayed until about 1:15 a.m. cutting into the attic and killing hot spots. The fire gutted the bathroom, an adjoining bedroom and heavily damaged a third bedroom and the attic, he said.

Smart admitted he wasn’t fazed to hear about the six sharks, which were tanked in an undamaged part of the house. It was unclear whether the fish were true sharks or tropical species that resemble sharks and named for them.

“The biggest one was maybe a foot long. I think they were some type of freshwater sharks, but I’m not sure,” Smart said. “I just said ‘Yeah? OK.’ I have seen the little ones that people have in fish tanks.”

Firefighters shuttled water via tanker truck to the house from a hydrant Lincoln Water District workers opened on Route 2 in Lincoln, Smart said.

“All the training we have all done together is showing,” Smart said. “There was a lot of intermingling of crews, and it just went right together great.”

Since Smart became chief of the new Lowell Fire Department in February 2010, the former Lincoln firefighter has held several training operations and acquired equipment to help increase volunteer firefighter participation in Burlington, Lowell and Passadumkeag.

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