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Restored power may have sparked fires

By Kimberly Drelich and Jennifer McDermott

Publication: theday.com

Published November 01. 2012 3:00PM   Updated November 02. 2012 12:20AM
Dana Jensen/The Day
Firefighters man the ladder Thursday at 17 Back Acres Way in Stonington. The generator, at the base of the ladder, originally was located in a small shed against the house where the fire began and then extended up the side of the three-story house.

East Lyme — In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the restoration of some power Thursday to homes in this blacked-out town appeared to be a mixed blessing.

While many in East Lyme, one of the hardest-hit towns in the state in terms of power outage, regained electricity after three days in the dark, the recharging of wires also is suspected of having sparked fires in at least two instances.

A fire in the wires at 29 Park Place around 7:30 p.m. Thursday lit leaves still on a tree but was quickly doused, Fire Marshal Richard Morris said.

Earlier Thursday, downed power lines in a yard on South Ridge Road began sparking when power was restored. The leaves caught on fire, said neighbor Jean Schaefer.

Power was turned off to prevent the spread of fire; Schaefer said she believes the fire didn't progress because the leaves were wet.

Neighbors lodged a complaint with Connecticut Light & Power to inform them of the dangerous situation. The fire department arrived at the scene, as did the National Guard and Connecticut Light & Power.

"We're very, very concerned," Schaefer said. "This is a serious safety concern."

Meanwhile, the restoration of power may have contributed to a fire at Unit 1M at 11 King Arthur Drive, which shattered windows and damaged the inside the apartment. Resident Marcia Harriman said the stove may have been left on when she was cooking Monday and the power went out due to the storm.

In Stonington, the Old Mystic Fire Department responded to a fire at 17 Back Acres Way shortly before 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

The back side of the house and a small shed in back were on fire. Firefighters extinguished the blaze in less than an hour, according to Deputy Chief Robert Sullivan, but the back side of the house was damaged. The occupants of the home escaped safely.

The cause is under investigation. A generator was located behind the house.

The Naval Submarine Base, Wequetequock, Quiambaug and North Stonington fire departments responded, as did Mystic River Ambulance.




Fire safety tips

• As power is restored, check to make sure stoves, electronic devices, etc. are shut off

• Avoid downed wires and trees

• Make sure to follow correct procedure on proper connection and placement of generators

• Generators must be placed away from the house

• Call the local fire department if you have questions on fire safety or proper use of generators

Source: Flanders Fire Department Chief Jim Levandoski

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