Three-alarm fire damages Cross Street home

by Karina Coombs

Carlisle firefighters responded to reports of a structure fire at 447 Cross Street on December 11. Homeowner Bonnie Miskolczy placed a 911 call at 4:44 p.m. and three engines and a tanker were on scene by 4:53 p.m. No injuries were reported, but the home sustained significant damage at the fire’s point of origin in a basement room, the kitchen and south facing exterior wall.

Carlisle Fire Chief David R. Flannery explained that the fire began in a basement utility room where a wood-burning furnace was located and “got into the space above the ceiling, [the] exterior wall cavity and then up to the eave of the roof on the south side of the house.”

Seventeen Carlisle firefighters responded to the scene in addition to 15 firefighters from Concord, Westford and Hanscom Air Force Base. Carlisle firefighters laid out 2,000 feet of hose to access the 30,000-gallon fire cistern on Trillium Lane, but ended up not using it, thanks to the 5,000 gallon tanker provided by Hanscom AFB. The Acton Fire Department provided an engine and crew to cover the Carlisle station during the fire and the station was cleared shortly after 10 p.m. Flannery reported that the homeowner was staying with neighbors.

NSTAR energy was called and turned off the power to the home. Carlisle Building Commissioner John Luther was called out to the scene to check structural damage, help determine cause and provide advice to the homeowner. Luther reported that the Cross Street property was currently uninhabitable. He explained that a lot of clean-up companies and insurance adjusters show up on the scene of a fire almost immediately, with flames still active. “My advice to homeowners is to not talk with anyone until the following day,” says Luther.

Flannery said, “Our firefighters are highly trained and skilled and this fire was an example of their fine abilities to stop the fire where they found it and then work to extinguish the fire causing a minimum amount of damage to the remaining portions of the structure. We also recognize the assistance and support from our neighboring fire departments who worked side by side with our crews in a team effort at this fire.”

Canteen crew helps out

Members of the volunteer Carlisle Fire Department Canteen Crew were also on site. Ferns Country Store owner Larry Bearfield, Molly and Katherine Sorrows passed out food and water to grateful firefighters. The canteen comes under the organizational command of Fire Department Captain JJ Supple. The crew provides support to the firefighters who often work for hours to completely extinguish a blaze. Liz Bishop also serves as a canteen volunteer.

When it is clear that there is a prolonged fire, Supple decides to put out the call for the canteen. Bearfield and his wife, Robin Emerson, have procedures in place within Ferns so that the staff is able to assist even if Bearfield and Emerson are not available. “We know who all the vegetarians are on staff so we can quickly make up [dozens] of subs immediately,” says Bearfield. They also gather water, blankets and tables to set up their operation after they have checked in with the on-scene officer in charge. Says Bearfield, “A lot of times if there is a major incident there is mutual coverage. We take care of them too and provide food as well.” ∆