SOUTH PORTLAND — A Hamilton Street family was eating dinner Wednesday night when a fire of unknown origin erupted in the two-car garage attached to their home, according to a Fire Department official.

The family escaped to safety, along with their dog, and called 911 at 7:12 p.m. Thirty-five firefighters from the South Portland Fire Department arrived within five minutes.

The fire was under control by 8:30 p.m., but had consumed all but the frame of the garage at 81 Hamilton St. A minivan inside the garage was also destroyed, as well as much of the external wall of the home facing the blaze. Firefighters could be seen in the home through second-story windows that had been blown out.

Fire Chief Kevin Guimond said the cause of the fire was under investigation.

While the damage to the structure of the garage and home was significant, Guimond said it could have been much worse, even though the fire was less than a mile from the fire station.

“Thank God we didn’t have people sleeping,” he said. “This would have been a whole different story at 2 a.m.”

The residents of the damaged home were seated in lawn chairs across the street in a neighbor’s driveway safe and sound, but declined to be interviewed.

Fire departments from Cape Elizabeth and Portland were on call to cover South Portland’s station if any other emergencies occurred while the city’s firefighters responded to the blaze.

Mario Moretto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @riocarmine.

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Fire consumed a two-car garage and damaged the home at 81 Hamilton St. in South Portland Wednesday night. The fire erupted while the residents were eating dinner. The family, and their dog, made it out safely.

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