FIREFIGHTERS EXTINGUISH a blaze that destroyed a garage at 287 Hacker Road in Brunswick on Thursday morning and save the nearby house.

FIREFIGHTERS EXTINGUISH a blaze that destroyed a garage at 287 Hacker Road in Brunswick on Thursday morning and save the nearby house.

BRUNSWICK

The owner of a garage destroyed in a fire Thursday morning credits a neighbor for noticing the blaze and waking his wife and has heaped praise on responding firefighters.

Firefighters from Brunswick, Topsham, West Bath, Freeport, Durham and Lisbon were called to 287 Hacker Road in Brunswick shortly after 5 a.m. Thursday for a fire that had fully engulfed a garage when they arrived. Flames were starting to melt the siding on the nearby house when the first engine rolled up with three firefighters.

“It was a good stop, it really was,” Brunswick Fire Chief Ken Brillant said. “Another couple of minutes and it easily could have been in the main house and it would have been a different story.”

He added: “We had a two-car garage that was fully involved when we first pulled up. We only had three people.”

The house sustained only exterior damage.

Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Emerson spent most of the day at the scene of the fire and Thursday afternoon said the cause likely will be undetermined but said it appears accidental.

“ I’d say the thing that made the biggest difference in the fire was the owner calling 911 as fast as she did,” Emerson said. “Sometimes people hesitate or try to react, but she called us immediately.”

With three firefighters on scene initially, Emerson said the decisions that are made in the first seconds are crucial, and in this case the officer made some really good decisions and was able to keep the fire from the house. When he went inside the house later on, he couldn’t even smell smoke.

Dale Perreault owns the house with his wife, Sherie, and said he is grateful firefighters were able to arrive quickly enough to keep the fire from spreading to the nearby house.

He had left for work at Bath Iron Works when the fire broke out. He said Thursday afternoon that the fire could have been worse.

“You look on the bright side,” he said.

His wife has stage three lung Sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease, and any smoke could have been fatal to her. If the house had been engulfed, he said, “ she may not have been able to get it out.”

“ We’ve got to do something for the gentleman who stopped and saved my wife’s life,” Perreault said.

Fortunately, neighbor Larry Anderson, a lobsterman, drove past the residence on his way to work and noticed the smoke. He thought at first someone may have started a vehicle but he had this nagging feeling and turned around seconds later to investigate further and saw a lot of smoke coming from the garage. He went to the front door of the house, pounding on it until he roused Sherie Perreault from bed.

She told Anderson her keys were in the car in the garage and he was able to back her car out, move Perreault’s plow truck out of the way and helped get the three dogs out of the house and tucked away in the car out of the way. Then the two waited outside until a police officer arrived and got Sherie Perreault’s phone so she could call her husband. Once the first fire truck arrived, Anderson left to meet his helper and went lobstering. Had he not driven by when he did, he hopes someone would have.

“It was fortunate that I went by at the right time. I was glad I was able to help them out,” Anderson said.

“ God was actually in some ways shining down,” said Dale Perrault, because Anderson drove by when he did.

“ I just left,” Perreault said. “I was in the garage, I was right where it started essentially.”

He said there was no trace of fire or anything awry when he left that morning. Had the garage been attached to the house, “ everything would be gone,” he said.

Perreault said he believes squirrels may have chewed wires in the garage.

He hopes the garage will be replaced by the spring, having a brother and good friend who are contractors.

“Those firefighters, I’m going to tell you what,” he said. “ The fire started somewhere shortly before 5 … they got there damn quick and they were working really hard and it was down really quick. Those guys from all those towns — you know what? Pay your taxes and appreciate those firefighters.”

Golf clubs, snow blowers, lawn mowers and other items were stored in the garage, but what breaks his heart is the loss of the baby pictures of his now 23-year-old daughter along with some of her childhood art work. He can handle the loss of stuff and even sentimental items. Not being able to see the photos of his daughter growing up, “that’s tough.”

Fortunately his daughter was at a friend’s that night and wasn’t home at the time of the fire.

“Life is precious,” Perreault said. “We are grateful and the town of Brunswick’s firefighters are great, I can’t say more than that. They were absolutely professional — unbelievable to watch.”

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