October 2, 2013

Generator fire destroys home in Westbrook

One firefighter is injured in the Park road blaze, which starts in a generator being used to restore power following a car accident.

By Leslie Bridgers lbridgers@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

WESTBROOK — A mechanical malfunction in a generator started a fire that destroyed a home on Park Road in Westbrook on Tuesday morning.

click image to enlarge

Firefighters extinguish a blaze at a home on Park Road in Westbrook on Tuesday. The fire started in a generator that had been turned on after a nearby car accident knocked out power.

Photos by John Ewing / Staff Photographer

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Kathryn Crowley and her son Daniel Crowley watch from across the street Tuesday as firefighters put out a fire at their home.

Fire Department Capt. Peter Mullin said the generator, which was stored outside 277 Park Road, caught fire. The fire spread to the home.

One firefighter had to be taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where he was treated for heat exhaustion.

The generator had been turned on after the house lost power when a car crashed into a utility pole and took down power lines nearby, said the home’s owner, Timothy Crowley.

Crowley’s mother and brother live in the home that he owns at 277 Park Road. He lives on the island of Greenland but was in Westbrook visiting.

Crowley said they turned on the generator a couple of hours after the crash, which happened at 8:30 a.m. near 188 Park Road, in order to preserve food in their refrigerator and freezer.

Later, he said, he heard the generator “kind of hiccuping” and suspected something was wrong.

“When I got outside, the flames just shot out,” said Crowley, who ran inside the house, got his cellphone and called 911. He then tried to put out the flames with a fire extinguisher but couldn’t get close enough.

“The heat was incredible,” said Crowley, who had blisters on his forehead from trying to extinguish the blaze.

His family got out safely, but two cats were left inside. He hadn’t seen them as of Tuesday afternoon.

Around 1 p.m., about an hour after the fire started, his mother and brother, 88-year-old Kathryn Crowley and Daniel Crowley, 61, sat in folding chairs on the sidewalk watching chunks of the roof fall into the blue ranch-style house as water from firefighting hoses sprayed into their home.

“My mom is pretty much devastated,” Timothy Crowley said.

Kathryn Crowley has lived in the home since 1985, when her husband, who died a couple of years ago, retired from the Marine Corps, Timothy Crowley said.

Crowley said the family tested the generator every month by turning it on.

Westbrook police Capt. Michael Nugent said a couple of people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries as a result of the accident, in which a car clipped a utility pole. He didn’t know the names of the driver or passengers.

Several roads were closed as police and firefighters responded to the two incidents. All roads had reopened to traffic by about 3:30 p.m.

Staff Writers Dennis Hoey and David Hench contributed to this report.

Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:


Twitter: @lesliebridgers

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