Million Dollar Home Up in Flames

A $1.9 million waterfront mansion on the Westbrook harbor burned to the ground last night despite the efforts of firefighters from six area departments.

Last night at 7:28 p.m., Westbrook Volunteer Fire Department responders were dispatched to 54 Captains Drive in Westbrook, where a shoreline home was reported to be on fire. Neighbors did not notice the fire until it was already climbing up the back of the house, according to Westbrook Fire Chief Michael Jenkins, who reported that the team effort of the departments from Westbrook, Essex, Deep River, Clinton, Killingworth, and Old Lyme had the fire under control within an hour.

The house was fully engulfed by the time fire officials arrived on scene. Jenkins said there were also two fire rescue boats on scene putting the fire out on the back side of the house from the water

State authorities were called in to assist with the investigation shortly after the fire began, according to State Police Department and State Fire Marshal spokesman Lt. Paul Vance.

"There were no fatalities," reported Vance. "But a couple of firefighters sustained injuries from fighting the fire."

The four-bedroom, five-bath, 5,000-plus square-foot home built in 2002 from Pilot's Point Marina sold for $1,925,000 on Oct. 21, 2009 to Michele R. Weinberg. Weinberg also has an address listed in Canton. The home was a vacation home, according to reports. While the home was being extinguished, Jenkins says an owner did arrive on scene after being notified by a neighbor that his home was on fire.

Jenkins reports that he and one other department captain were the first two firefighters on scene and that they were able to arrive within four minutes of the initial call.

An average response time for the Westbrook department could be five to seven minutes as the all-volunteer department has to respond to the station from their homes before departing on call, Jenkins aid.

Jenkins says in the past 12 hours since the fire has been extinguished, people have commented that it took the department too long to respond. Noting that the call center has documented their response time at four minutes, Jenkins says, the rapid burning of the home could make it seem like the fire was burning unattended for longer.

At this time, Jenkins says the state has assumed responsibility of investigating the origins of the fire.

Vance says the state is working with Westbrook fire officials to determine the origin of the fire. In response to whether or not arson was suspected, Vance said, "I don't think there's a conclusion just yet."

Vance reports, to his knowledge, no other abutting homes were damaged by the fire.
Vance reports, to his knowledge, no other abutting homes were damaged by the fire.


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