NEWINGTON – A second blaze at a Newington home Thursday smoldered for hours until neighbors could see smoke and flames again coming from the house, officials said.
Firefighters first responded to 35 Stuart St. at about 11 a.m. Thursday on a report of an attic fire during the height of a blustery snow storm in frigid temperatures that buffeted the region for hours. The family escaped the home safely and firefighters rescued the family cat from the basement, Fire Chief Chris Schroeder said.
The family could not return to the home because of the damage so they found other lodging in town. Firefighters secured the house and the Fire Marshal was at the home investigating the cause until about 2 p.m., Schroeder said. At that point there was no sign that burning embers from the attic fire had traveled down the walls of the balloon frame construction house, the Fire Chief said.
Structures made with balloon frame construction, popular before the 1920s, have a gap between the interior and exterior walls making it particularly hard to fight and contain fires since the flames can travel to other floors easily. Around 10:15 p.m. dispatchers received multiple 911 calls reporting the house was on fire again with visible smoke and flames coming from the area of the second floor, Schroeder said. This time the blaze heavily damaged the home.
Fire officials now believe that burning embers from the first fire in the attic traveled down the gap in the walls to the first floor where they smoldered for hours until igniting. The fire then traveled up the first floor wall into the second floor where it became visible to neighbors, he said.
“I don’t think the crews of the first fire were aware there was a problem two floors below,” Schroeder said.
The cause of both fires is still under investigation.
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com.