Firefighters: Smoke detectors saved Portsmouth family


PORTSMOUTH — Members of a local family whose house caught fire early Tuesday morning are safe today because they did everything right, firefighters say.

The Fire Department received a 911 call at 1:09 a.m. Tuesday reporting a fire in an occupied home at 49 Hathaway Drive, according to Deputy Fire Chief Michael O’Brien. Firefighters arrived to find fire venting from a window on the front of the house.

Led by Capt. Darryl Sieben, firefighters stretched an “attack line” to a side door, forced entry and quickly extinguished the fire, he said.

The damage — estimated in the area of $30,000 — was limited to an exterior wall on the front of the house and the kitchen as well as smoke damage throughout the house, the deputy chief said.

The cause of the fire was deemed accidental, although it’s still being investigated.

Deputy O’Brien said while the “unremarkable” fire may not be considered significant by some, it had the potential of destroying the home and injuring its occupants. “This fire and the outstanding outcome was the result of things happening the way they should,” he stated in a press release.

Three adults and three children were sleeping in the house at the time and were alerted to the fire by the sound of activated smoke detectors, he said. The family escaped the home by retreating to the basement and exiting a rear basement door. Once outside, they dialed 911 to report the fire and crews responded within three minutes.

“The proper maintaining of smoke detectors, proper decision-making under stressful circumstances, the quick response time, and the proper execution of their duties by firefighters combined to minimize the magnitude of damage this fire caused,” said Deputy O’Brien.

A neighbor provided shelter to the family while the fire was being extinguished.

“The family was unable to stay in the home following the fire; it is understood they sought shelter at an area hotel,” said the deputy chief.

Portsmouth police provided support during the investigation of the fire, and the Naval Station Newport Fire Department covered the town from the fire station.

A gray family cat escaped the fire but has not been located, the deputy said. Neighbors are asked keep an eye out for the pet.


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