(Originally from the Lincoln News)

ENFIELD – Firefighters from four area departments saved a house from complete destruction after an early morning fire leveled a garage Saturday morning.

Judy Thompson and her son have been temporarily displaced from their Main Road home due to smoke and water damage, but, thanks to the efforts of the men and woman from Howland, Lincoln, Burlington and Passadumkeag fire departments, only the two rooms closest to the garage were a complete loss.

“That was a stop and a half,” Howland Fire Chief Josh McNally said.

Both Thompson and her son, who was not named by the department, were home when the fire started, but it was an observant passing motorist who saw the flames and alerted the family to the danger at 7 a.m. The family evacuated and called 911 from a neighbor’s house.

“The son had been in the garage working that morning, and had recently built an addition onto the back of the building,” McNally said, stating the origin of the fire could have been a nail driven
through an electric wire.

Lincoln Public Information Officer Rob Hendrick, who was one of the several firefighters to respond from that department, said he had driven by the home at 6:30 a.m. and nothing had been showing. However, by the time the first responders from Howland arrived on the scene, the building was completely flattened, and the fire was burning up a utility pole and had spread into the kitchen and utility room inside the house.

Josh McNally and a blend of Howland and Lincoln firefighters recover from extinguishing fire.

McNally said his team focused on saving the house, sending a team in through a side door into the house. He said the fire had spread up between the roof and false ceiling as well as the two rooms.

Traffic was temporarily reduced to one lane as firefighters worked to stop the flames from consuming the house as well. The fight was aided by a nearby water source, as firefighters drew water from a brook adjacent to the garage.

The incident was one of two emergencies Howland emergency workers responded to, with the day starting at 4 a.m. with a rollover accident on the interstate that left a New York woman hospitalized with a severe head injury.

“Cory (Stratton) had just backed the ambulance into the garage and he had to roll on the fire call,” McNally said.

It was not known if everyone had evacuated the burning building safely at the time of the initial page, and a glitch in the dispatch did not tone Lincoln, who shares Enfield fire coverage with Howland, initially. McNally said as soon as Stratton, who is also a captain for the Lincoln department, saw the black smoke rising over the trees he called for Lincoln to be paged as well.

“I’m elated to how the Lincoln and Howland guys who are pack certified are starting to blend together,” McNally said about the firefighters who entered the building to save the house. “The (Lt.) Jake Hammonds, the (Captain) Damien Parents (of Lincoln). I couldn’t ask for a better response.”

Saturday’s fire is one of six both Lincoln and Howland have responded to jointly this year, a high number considering most fires usually occur during colder weather. It is also the second in two weeks within the Howland’s coverage area, as a fire destroyed an Edinburg home on Wednesday, July 26.

In total, Howland ambulance and fire responded to 136 calls in July alone.

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