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May 3, 2013

Fast-moving fire destroys exclusive home in Kittery

Firefighters initially feared a teenage girl might be inside, but she was safely outside when found.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

KITTERY - A two-alarm fire destroyed an elaborate home Friday despite the efforts of more than a half-dozen fire departments.

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Smoke rises from a fire that destroyed a 4,400-square-foot home Friday at 41 Oak Terrace in Kittery. The nearest hydrant was 1,400 feet away, hampering the response.

Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Police Chief David O'Brien said he got the report of a fire at 1:17 p.m. He was a mile and a half away and could see the smoke. Within two minutes, he could see the house at 41 Oak Terrace and it was blazing.

"Every window, every door, the roof, the whole thing was on fire," O'Brien said. 

There was no saving the building, he said.

The initial 40 minutes were tense because firefighters thought a teenage girl might be inside, but she was found safe, he said.

"That made us all feel a lot better," he said. Nobody was injured, though two firefighters suffered from too much heat and had to be treated at the scene, he said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but it is not considered suspicious, O'Brien said. Town records list the owner as Daniel L. Arbo.

The fire took almost three hours to bring under control, and crews were still at the scene at 8 p.m. 

Fire officials summoned aid from surrounding communities, particularly tanker trucks, because of a shortage of water.

The nearest hydrant was 1,400 feet away, and another was 2,000 feet away, near the Route 1 bypass. O'Brien said it takes time to lay out that much hose and then get water flowing.

The 2½-story house, with 4,400 square feet of living space, is valued by the town at $377,000 for the building alone, according to town records. It was a total loss.

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com

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