Portsmouth kitchen fire forces occupants out

Portsmouth fire station

Portsmouth fire stationPORTSMOUTH — A “cooking mishap” was the cause of a structure fire Wednesday night that forced several occupants of a Lawton Brook Lane condo unit to seek overnight shelter with relatives.

According to Deputy Fire Chief Michael P. O’Brien, the Fire Department received a 911 call at 8:49 p.m. Wednesday from a resident of 27 Lawton Brook Lane who said their kitchen was on fire.  Engines 1 & 3, with Ladder 1, were dispatched and shortly afterward, a second 911 call was made from 26 Lawton Brook Lane, reporting that the house was filling with smoke.

Deputy Chief O’Brien said 27 and 26 Lawton Brook Lane are part of single structure that houses eight condominium units. There were people home in at least six of the units at the time of the fire, he said.

Crews led by Capt. Howard Tighe arrived to find a fire in the kitchen and “heavy black smoke” throughout the residence, he said. “Due to size of the structure and the possibility of extension of the fire to adjacent units, a second alarm was transmitted,” said Deputy Chief O’Brien, noting that a Middletown and Bristol engine responded, while a Tiverton engine covered the fire station.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze, opening up walls and pulling ceilings. At the same time, neighboring condo units were evacuated.

“The building is protected by individual fire alarms and smoke detection; individuals in the joined residence were unaware of the fire in their building,” he said, adding that extensive ventilation was required as carbon monoxide was found in units to the left and right of the fire.

A man living at the residence that caught fire was evaluated by rescue workers but, against their advice, refused to be taken to a hospital, he said. “Occupants of 27 Lawton Brook stayed with relatives last night,” he added.

“I would like commend Capt. Tighe and his firefighters for their work; their aggressive attack on the fire prevented this incident from becoming a major incident. The fact that, with the exception of the unit that caught fire, all residents were back in their homes after less than two hours is a testament to their outstanding response,” said Deputy Chief O’Brien, adding that he was also grateful for the department’s mutual aid partners.

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