2013-04-01 / Front Page

Chimney fire guts Bath home

Chief: Crews challenged by "balloon construction"
BY DARCIE MOORE Times Record Staff


FIREFIGHTERS WORK to stop a fire spreading through a High Street home on Saturday as owner Charlie Nace, far right, looks on. 
JT LEONARD / THE TIMES RECORD FIREFIGHTERS WORK to stop a fire spreading through a High Street home on Saturday as owner Charlie Nace, far right, looks on. JT LEONARD / THE TIMES RECORD BATH

A two-story home was badly damaged Saturday after an apparent chimney fire.

Charles Nace — who lives in the house at 1270 High St. with his wife, Avis — was sitting alone in the living room while his wife and granddaughter were out walking the dogs when an upstairs smoke alarm sounded.

“I went upstairs and there was smoke on the second floor, so I came down and called the fire department and we all just came outside and just waited for the fire department,” Nace said. “They were here within five minutes.”

The Bath Fire Department was dispatched to the fire at 4:17 p.m. When firefighters arrived, Nace said he took a firefighter to the second floor and showed him how to access the attic, which also was filled with smoke.

The firefighter confirmed there was a fire, he said, “and they did what they do,” Nace said. “They’re very good what they do.”

Nace said he has a wood stove but the fire in it was out. He said he had just installed the smoke alarm early in March.

“Nobody was in the house; everybody was out so no one was hurt or anything like that,” Nace said.

Bath Fire Chief Steve Hinds said the home is gutted but can be repaired. He said Saturday the preliminary cause of the fire was a blockage in the chimney.

He said the fire started on the first floor inside the walls in the area of the chimney and stove, then spread to the second floor and attic. The house, like all homes of the same era, was built with what firefighters call a balloon construction, Hinds said, so there are no “fire stops,” which made extinguishing the fire more challenging.

Firefighters ran multiple water lines in the house and cut a hole in the roof to give smoke and heat an outlet and helped firefighters gain visibility.

Hinds said this morning that firefighters put a weight in the chimney to clear a blockage.

He said every room sustained some water, smoke and fire damage, though some rooms sustained more damage than others.

He estimated it took crews about 20 minutes to knock down the fire, and then it was a matter of extinguishing hot spots. They were assisted on scene by Brunswick and West Bath fire departments, while Phippsburg and Woolwich provided station coverage.

Hinds said he and Bath Fire Capt. Tim Merry would continue to investigate the cause of the fire, though the preliminary cause appears to be a chimney fire.

According to the Bath assessing website, the home was built in 1940 and the structures are worth $133,300.

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