EASTHAM –– A home monitoring system helped firefighters save a home at 935A Cable Road from a basement blaze early Sunday morning.
No one was home or injured, according to Eastham Fire Chief Dan Keane. But the fire caused an estimated $500,000 damage. And had the owners, part-time Eastham residents Karen and Bruce Spitler, not had their alarm system connected to the fire dept., it would have been a total loss.
“It would have been what we call ‘surround and drown,’ ” said Keane. Only the foundation would have remained, he said.
Because of the damage, Keane said he could not name a precise cause, though the state police determined the fire was accidental.
It started in an area of the basement with “quite a bit of electrical wiring,” according to the chief. The Spitlers, who were not in town when the fire occurred, had planned to have the house painted and had left the heat on.
Keane estimated that the fire had burned for 30 minutes to an hour before smoke made its way to the main level of the house, where a detector connected to the home monitoring device contacted the fire station around 6:45 a.m.
Firefighters from Eastham and six nearby departments — Orleans, Wellfleet, Truro, Brewster, Harwich, and Chatham — responded. When they arrived, the house was filled with smoke. “They went in with zero visibility, just feeling for heat,” Keane said.
The fire was moving up through the ductwork in the house, he said.
The fact that the home owners had closed all interior doors prevented the fire from spreading more rapidly. “When you go to bed at night, close your bedroom doors, and that keeps the fire from advancing prior to our arrival,” Keane said.
Keane also said it’s important to have up-to-date smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. “It’s shocking how many people are not properly protected,” he said. Firefighters find many homes still have 30-year-old smoke detectors or no working detectors at all, because people take them down after false alarms.
“The technology is so much better now,” he said.