Fire sweeps 2-story house after nearby lightning strike
BROOKLINE - A local family is temporarily homeless after fire swept through their Laurelcrest Drive home early Tuesday night. "There was fire throughout every floor," said Brookline Fire Chief Charlie Corey about what responding firefighters found at the two-story wood frame house at 47 Laurelcrest Drive at about 5 p.m. The fire was reported by telephone at 4:48 p.m., shortly after neighbors reported hearing an extremely loud lightning strike in the area. Everybody was outside the home when Brookline firefighters arrived 13 minutes later and quickly struck a second alarm, then minutes later a third alarm, Corey said. None of the home's occupants were injured, Corey said, but he could not say how many people were inside the home at the time. Firefighters from Hollis, Milford, Mason and Townsend and Pepperell, Mass., responded to the alarms, arriving minutes later to assist Brookline firefighters in extinguishing the fire. No hydrants were near the home, so to get water, firefighters stretched out more than 1,000 feet of hose from the front of the home to a nearby pond that is used for that purpose. By the time the fire was extinguished, about 30 minutes later, firefighters had broken several windows and ripped off exterior panels in an effort to release heat and stop the fire from spreading. No firefighters were injured in the effort. The fire caused damage throughout the interior of the home and burned vinyl siding on the outside of the house. It was uninhabitable, Corey said. At about 6 p.m., the sky opened up, releasing a downpour on the area that sent neighbors watching the firefighters running for cover. The rain stopped about 10 minutes later, and by then, most of the assisting firefighters had cleared leaving only Brookline firefighters and the returning neighbors. A man who identified himself as the homeowner walked through the rubble in his front yard with a laptop computer under his arm. The man said he was OK but left the area without saying more. Neighbors gathering in the street at that time said they began seeing fire trucks arrive on the street about 20 minutes after a lightning strike shook the entire neighborhood. "It was like, the loudest bang," said Stuart Bentall of 42 Laurelcrest Drive. "We thought it hit our house," he said. The strike caused the power to give out momentarily, Bentall said, and even lit up the neighborhood for a second. "Everything looked blue," another neighbor said. Corey could not say if the fire had been caused by a lightning strike. "We won't know until we investigate," he said, adding that his department was investigating and the state fire marshal was not involved. The fire is not considered suspicious, he said.