Old Saybrook — A massive fire Friday afternoon at 1 Pheasant Hill Lane burned most of the two-story, raised ranch-style home there and brought responding fire crews from around the region.
No one was home at 11:53 a.m. when the blaze broke out, but Old Saybrook Fire Chief J.T. Dunn said a family dog died in the fire. Dunn said the fire department received a call reporting an explosion at the home. When fire crews arrived, the garage was fully engulfed in flames, and the flames were spreading to the rest of the home.
The neighborhood does not have fire hydrants, Dunn said, so crews from Lyme, Old Lyme, Chester, Deep River, Essex, Westbrook, Clinton, Madison and Guilford responded with tanker trucks and transported “tens of thousands of gallons” of water from a pond down Ingham Hill Road and from a hydrant near the Ryther-Purdy lumber yard on Elm Street. Dunn said one responding firefighter stepped on a yellow jacket’s nest and was stung more than 12 times. He was treated and released from a clinic, Dunn said.
The interior of the home, which sits on a small hill at the corner of Pheasant Hill Lane and Ingham Hill Road, was completely gutted, and the garage area and second floor had collapsed. A plastic, white picket fence surrounding the backyard had partially melted from the flames. Dunn said the home was a total loss, but he was unsure of any accommodations for the homeowners.
According to the town’s website, the home is owned by Robert and Sheri Stalsburg. The family was gathered across the street in a neighbor’s yard, but Dunn said they were too upset to talk. A woman, who declined to identify herself, said her brother owned the home and that his wife had just left to go to the grocery store when the explosion occurred.
Dunn said it took about 40 minutes for firefighters to get the blaze under control. Around 3:30 p.m., smoke was still coming out of the house, and Dunn said a fire engine would stay on scene in case any hot spots flared up. Fire investigators had arrived Friday afternoon but might not determine a cause for weeks, Dunn said.
“It’s like piecing a puzzle together,” Dunn said. “These things take a long time.”