House damaged, kitten killed by New Year's Eve blaze


A New Year's Eve basement fire caused extensive flame and smoke damage to a Westport House.

The five family members inside (mother, three daughters and grandmother) were able to escape unhurt, but a kitten — a November birthday gift to one of the children — was lost in the smoky blaze.

At 6:30 p.m., the Westport Fire Department responded to a call reporting smoke in the basement of a house located at 388 Old Bedford Road whose owner is listed as Joey Yared.

The first arriving crewmen reported heavy smoke and fire in the basement of the 2 1/2 story wood-frame house.

Despite the cold and icy conditions and limited manpower caused by the New Year's Eve timing of the fire, Capt. Michael P. Silvia said that firefighters were able to aggressively fight the fire and bring it under control in about a half hour.

Deputy Chief Allen Manley Jr. said that a family member smelled smoke and looked into the cellar to find flames and smoke. They escaped and called the Fire Department.

"It spread very quickly," Dep. Chief Manley said. "Any more time and the house would almost certainly have been lost."

He said that crews first fought the fire through the basement windows and, when flames were knocked down sufficiently, attacked it from inside.

A big concern, he said was the 'balloon frame' construction which can give fire a straight unimpeded shot from basement to the attic.

While the entire house suffered heavy smoke damage, firefighters were able to contain the fire to the basement. The fire caused an estimated $250,000 in damage to the building and its contents.

It will be awhile before the house can again be occupied and the Red Cross is helping the family for now.

The Westport Fire Investigation Unit investigation the cause and origin of the fire, which remains undetermined at this time. Dep. Chief Manley said that it is not suspicious and may involve old wiring.

One firefighter received a minor injury when he slipped and fell on the ice. He did not require medical attention and continued to help fight the fire.

In addition to six pieces of firefighting apparatus from Westport, mutual aid was brought in to assist from Fall River, Tiverton and Dartmouth District 2.


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