UPDATED: Falling Ice Blamed For Fire That Killed Family Pets
Mar 10, 2015 11:18AM
By Bill Gilman
Photo by Rich MacDonald. Tewksbury Firefighters battle a blaze at 85 Rounsevell Ave. on Monday.
UPDATE (12 P.M. TUESDAY): Tewksbury firefighters returned to 85 Rounsevell Ave. Tuesday morning after "hot spots" ignited and flames were spotted in the rubble.
The fire was quickly brought under control
Falling ice smashed into a gas meter, sparking an explosion and fire that claimed the lives of two dogs and two cats on Monday.
The two-alarm fire broke out just after 4 p.m. in a single-family home at 85 Rounsevell Ave.
According to Tewksbury Fire Capt. Jon Viscione, a preliminary investigation indicates the blaze began at a gas meter on the outside of the home.
"It's likely that an ice dam started to melt and a chunk of ice came down and sheared off the meter," he said.
A female was home at the time and was alerted by the sound of the CO2 detector and an explosion, said Viscione.
"She went outside to check on it and saw flames coming from the area of the meter," he said.
While the damage from the falling ice caused the gas leak, It's not immediately known what specifically ignited the gas, causing the explosion and fire.
The first firefighters arriving at the scene saw flames coming from the basement and entered the home to attack the fire there. However, when Viscione and his unit arrived they saw flames and smoke coming from the eves and attic, as well, indicating the firefighters inside had fire both above and below them.
"The call was made to pull the firefighters out of the building, " said Viscione. "That was my call. I made the decision."
The decision proved prudent, as the roof of the home began to collapse a short time later.
Firefighters encountered obstacles in trying to fight the fire. According to Chief Michael Hazel, one of three nearby hydrants did not work. Also, the fire was being "fueled" by the gas leak. National Grid had to be called in to shut down both gas and electricity to that section of Rounsevell Avenue. According to Viscione, it took about 25 minutes for National Grid to arrive on scene.
According to Hazel, an earlier report that one hydrant was not cleared of snow was incorrect. He said all three hydrants were clear before firefighters arrived.
Town records indicate the home is owned by Gary T. Overmeyer. According to Viscione, the female who was home at the time of the fire escaped, unharmed. However, two dogs and two cats were trapped inside and killed.
In addition, according to Viscione, a Tewksbury Firefighter suffered a leg injury and was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
Rounsevell Avenue is located off South Street.
According to town records, the raised-ranch home was built in 1968. The structure has an assessed value of $108,800 and sustained heavy damage.
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