Thanks to the swift action of neighbours, a family of four and their two dogs safely escaped an early morning blaze, Monday, Oct. 25, which significantly damaged a Somerville home overlooking the St. John River across from Hartland.
Homeowner Ryan McCully said the pounding on their door just after 4:30 a.m. awakened him and his wife, Marissa. At first, confused by the pounding, he opened a window to ask what was happening. Maureen MacLean, his neighbour from across the street, told him his attached garage was on fire.
McCully and his family and two dogs exited the building to see smoke and flames rising from the garage at the south end of the house.
Hartland Fire Chief Mike Walton said neighbours called 911 at 4:28 a.m. to report the fire at 29 Craig Street.
He said the first firefighters arrived on the scene to find the garage destroyed and the house’s attic fully engulfed.
The Hartland fire crews fought the blaze with mutual aid from Woodstock and Florenceville-Bristol to provide tanker support. He said the McCully family and their dogs were safely out of the building when firefighters arrived.
Although safely out, McCully and Walton said the family’s friendly German shepherd, Joey, unknowingly re-entered the burning building. McCully said he noticed Joey missing but assumed the frightened pet ran away from the fire. When a firefighter told him he saw a dog in the house, he realized Joey had returned inside.
McCully said he entered the house through the recently completed entrance at the north end of the building and escorted Joey to safety.
McCully, a wood-carving artist, used the garage as his workshop. He described it as his comfort place, where he went to work and to relax.
He said the fire destroyed his saws, woodworking tools, and several completed art pieces, including a few already sold.
Stan Graham, McCully’s neighbour to the south and closest to the burning garage, said his wife woke him, telling him the McCully house was on fire.
Graham said when he looked over, all he could see was flames. He rushed over to the house, thankfully finding the McCullys safely out of the building.
Graham described the McCully family as “wonderful neighbours.”
“Ryan’s a great guy, who is always willing to help,” he said.
Graham said the heat from the blaze was intense, noting he would have to check to see if it caused damage to the siding on his house.
Chief Walton said the fire destroyed the garage and attic and caused significant smoke and water damage to the main part of the house. He said it’s unclear if the house is salvageable.
Speaking on site of the fire late Monday, Walton said he called in the RCMP and the Fire Marshal’s Office to help determine a cause. He said it started in the garage, but they have yet to determine if it ignited inside or outside the building.
Walton said the house is reasonably new, built only a little over a decade ago, and recently underwent significant renovations.
He said the fire investigators are using a dog to comb through the debris, adding the fire remains under investigation.
McCully said he had already contacted his insurance provider, but he doubts they could save the house.
As he and Joey stood overlooking the damaged home and charred remains of his garage and workshop, McCully was saddened by the loss but thankful his family and pets were safe.
“It’s a good thing our neighbours woke us up,” he said.
Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun