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Main Street Tire

Wood stove causes fire

Multiple emergencies prompt 3 alarms

A Southbridge firefighter prepares to vent the home on Crestwood Drive where a woodstove fire caused smoke damage. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
December 20, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — Back-to-back emergency calls delayed the fire department's response to a fire on Crestwood Drive Friday evening. But, fortunately, it was contained to the source — a basement wood stove whose heat had ignited surrounding stored wood — and did not spread to the structure itself.

Owner Jeremy Buteau said he heard about the fire by cell phone from his girlfriend Jessica while at Wal-Mart.

"Something like this happens every year," he said, noting "everything's covered in soot."

Jessica said she "called 911 and they put me on hold three times."

Her call caused a flurry of scanner activity. Just after 5 p.m., the police scanner came alive with a request for "two full-time firefighters" to respond to "an emergency fire call." After a couple of attempts noting it was "contained," the dispatcher changed it to a "third alarm" for a "structure fire."

According to Chief Richard Ciesla, the official cause is clear — "combustibles too close to the wood stove." He said the woodpiles were just "six inches" from the heat and should have been "at least three feet."

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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