PROSPECT — A discarded cigarette may have caused a fire that destroyed a home at 4 Old Schoolhouse Road on Sunday.
The fire was called in at 4:30 p.m. by neighbors who saw smoke coming from the back of the home. By the time firefighters arrived on scene there was already “very heavy fire showing from the rear of the building,” Assistant Fire Chief William N. Lauber III said.
Three people, who were home at the time, escaped from the burning house on their own with the family dog.
Neighbors Tina and Jack Morais said they were eating dinner on the family’s back porch when they saw heavy smoke from the back of the neighbor’s home and then fire. Tina Morais said as she called the fire department flames were getting bigger and bigger. Her brother Jack said he saw cars in the driveway and figured people were home. When he knocked on the door, he said, family members were watching TV unaware their home was on fire.
“I’m just glad I caught it,” Tina Morais said of the fire.
On Sunday evening, a man, a woman and a boy watched as firefighters worked. Neighbors and relatives tried to comfort them. Some dropped off clothes, including shoes for the man and woman, who had fled the house in white socks and flip flop shoes. Another woman dropped off food.
Lauber said it took firefighters 45 minutes to completely bring the fire under control. Some 20 Prospect firefighters and 15 from Cheshire and Bethany worked on the scene. Firefighters rescued one cat from inside the home. Another cat was still missing Sunday night.
Fire Marshal Keith Griffin said the cause of the fire was accidental. Cigarette ash dropped in a waste basket in a covered back porch was what caused the fire, he said.
The fire traveled from the covered porch to adjacent garage and kitchen and into the attic.
“The house will probably be a total loss,” Griffin said.
Built in 1943, the house was insured, Griffin said.
The family members were staying with relatives on Sunday night. A contractor was on scene on Sunday night working on boarding up the structure.