Fairfield firefighters respond to two Wednesday evening fires

Fairfield fighters respond to a fire at the Greenfield Hill Service Station.

Fairfield fighters respond to a fire at the Greenfield Hill Service Station.

The Fairfield Emergency Communications Center received a fire alarm at the Greenfield Hill Service Station on Bronson Road on April 3, at 6:32 p.m., and dispatched Fire Engines 1, 4, and 5, Ladder 1, and Car 3.

Upon arrival, Engine 5 reported a heavy smoke condition in the structure and Engine 2 and Ladder 2 were added to the assignment. Fire personnel forced entry into the service station and located a large approximately 45 gallon garbage can on fire. The fire did not extend out of the garbage can, which was removed from the building and the fire extinguished.

According to Assistant Chief Schuyler Sherwood, who served as incident commander, the owner reported to the scene and was interviewed.

“The building was not occupied at the time of the fire, but had been secured not more than an hour prior to our alarm,” said Sherwood, adding “it is my determination that the cause of the fire was accidental” although it was impractical to determine if the primary cause was spontaneous combustion or discarding of smoking material. Engine 5 and Car 3 were the last units to clear at 7:21 p.m.

A half hour later, at 7:52, the fire department was dispatched to a 911 report from the occupant at 91 Fallow Field Road of a fire in the basement. An automatic alarm was also received for the residence, to which Engines 1, 4 and 5, Ladders 1 and 2, and Car 3 were responding. Upon arrival, Engine 5 reported a heavy smoke condition in the basement of the structure in the area of the electric panel. Fire department personnel shut off electric service in the house utilizing the main breaker.

It was then determined that the smoke was caused by a fire on the outside of the house which had extended into an outside wall. The wall was opened by fire crews and the fire was extinguished, after which the fire department ventilated the structure. Upon thorough investigation, it was determined that the fire was caused by discarded fireplace ashes.

The owner was on scene and was interviewed. The building was occupied at the time of the fire.

“It is my determination that the cause of the fire was accidental,”  Sherwood said. “The cause was discarding of ashes. The primary damage to the structure was the exterior wall and the sill plate.”

The homeowner was advised to notify his insurance company, and Car 3 was last unit to clear at 8:59.

“The early reporting by fire alarm systems and rapid action of our first in fire crews kept these two fires from causing significant property loss and possible injury to occupants,” said Sherwood, who also serves as a deputy fire marshal. “The Fallow Field fire should also serve as a reminder that embers from a fireplace can continue to smolder long afterwards and if not disposed of carefully can result in tragedies such as the Christmas fire in Stamford just over a year ago.”

Residents and business owners are reminded by Fairfield Fire Marshal Bill Kessler to dispose of cigarettes and fireplace ashes in a fire resistive container away from any structure to ensure that they do not rekindle and ignite a more serious structure fire.

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