Firefighters save house after garage burns

A riding lawn mower is believed to be the cause behind a raging fire that severely damaged a two-car garage on Hurlbutt Street Thursday, June 19.

The Wilton Fire Department managed to prevent the house from suffering any damage.

Firefighters responded to an emergency call for a structure fire at 379 Hurlbutt Street around 10:50 p.m., and discovered a two-story, two-car garage “heavily involved” in fire, according to Chief Ronald Kanterman. Although damage to the garage was severe, the fire did not affect the house.

“It’s what we call a good stop,” Chief Kanterman said. The residents were not home, he added, and there were no injuries. No pets were inside, either.

Although the lawn mower is believed to be the cause, the fire is still under investigation.

“We’re not really sure yet what may have been the problem,” Fire Marshal David Kohn said. “We can tell that’s where the fire originated, but there could be any number of reasons, from a fuel problem like a leak, or it could even be electrical.”

Mowers, like any other vehicle, require preventive maintenance, Mr. Kohn said. “When you are operating one or it’s parked in the garage and you can smell fuel or see a spill, you are going to want to check it out and have it fixed. From an operation standpoint, we caution people about refilling lawn mowers while they are hot. The vapors can ignite from the gasoline or spills. It’s always best to let them cool down for a while.”

Mr. Kohn said some mowers carry a lot of fuel, which could have been the case here because there was “a lot of fire here.”

In response to the call, Chief Kanterman said, “We sent everything we had.” The initial response included three fire engines, then off-duty firefighters came in with a fourth engine. They had the fire under control in about 40 minutes.

Firefighters attacked the blaze with large caliber hose streams including two-and-a-half-inch hose lines and Engine 4’s “deck gun,” according to Capt. Kevin Czarnecki. Upon knocking down the main body of the fire, firefighters went inside the garage to put out the rest of the fire. They also entered the home, searching for people and pets, and ensuring the fire had not spread.

The homeowners credited the “excellent” response by the fire department for saving the structure.

Fire departments in Georgetown, Weston, New Canaan and Westport sent tankers and firefighters in mutual aid and Westport covered the Danbury Road fire headquarters.

“These units were vital to our success,” Capt. Czarnecki said.

Chief Kanterman said he did not know who called in the alarm.