For Immediate Release:
Chief of the Department Jenifer Collins-Brown reports that on the morning of Tuesday March 5, 2019 the Essex County Regional Emergency Communications Center (ECRECC) received a 911 call from a homeowner on Blueberry Lane requesting the fire department respond for what appeared to be a fire in the chimney. TPD Detective Pickering arrived and updated that smoke was coming from the chimney and flames were inside the flu. Engine 3 arrived minutes later with LT Brown and FF Bonaiuto, FF Ahern was working in the area off-duty and responded to the scene, taking over the responsibility of operating the engine, should the pump be needed. Upon investigation after entering the building, Lt. Brown and FF Bonaiuto determined that there was an active chimney fire inside the flu with signs of an obstruction somewhere inside it as well, leading the home to fill with smoke and the liner and brick/mortar of the chimney to become dangerously hot. Lt. Brown requested the “Working Fire” which ensured that the station and rest of the Town would be covered since the incident would take time and resources to stabilize. Car 1, Truck 1, and Engine 2 arrived soon after along with Boxford’s Engine 2, a tanker with 2,500 gallons of water, as Blueberry Lane is far outside the pressurized water system. Lt. Brown requested a 35 foot ground ladder to the rear of the building and chains to drop down the chimney and clear the obstruction, then extinguish the fire. Typically a ladder truck would be used to reach the chimney top, but the location of the chimney on the rear of the building and a steep, long, and narrow driveway made placement of Truck 1 impossible. Once the clogged flu was cleared and the fuel removed from the wood stove, crews removed smoldering creosote from the bottom of the flu where it had settled after being knocked loose from the chains. After that, a dry chemical fire extinguisher was used to extinguish any remaining fire and coat the inside of the chimney. While crews on scene worked to carry ladders through deep snow from yesterday, isolate the fire, and monitor the rest of the house for fire spread and carbon monoxide buildup, mutual aid companies from Middleton, Wenham, Ipswich, and Beverly covered the station, and an ALS Ambulance from Northeast Regional stood by at the scene. Once the fire was deemed out and the building ventilated of smoke and carbon monoxide, crews cleared the scene. Chief Collins-Brown would like to extend her appreciation to the members of the community for their ongoing support, and the firefighters that worked to control the fire this morning. The department’s gratitude is also extended to the mutual aid departments who responded to the scene and for coverage. With Topsfield’s steadily increasing number of emergencies each year, 1,098 exactly last calendar year, and staffing challenges and models that are inherently inconsistent, mutual aid is an essential aspect of our response and ensuring that the town is always covered. The prompt response by surrounding departments also ensures that if conditions take an unexpected turn for the worse, help is already on the way. There were no injuries at the scene, command was terminated in less than an hour.