SPOFFORD, N.H. -- Firefighters were busy Sunday night as a gas grill fire nearly consumed a home along Echo Cove Way and severe thunderstorms fried the electronics of another home.
At about 7 p.m., firefighters received a call that a barbecue had caught fire and the flames had spread to the wooden deck and the exterior of the home.
When the fire was finally under control, about an hour and 45 minutes after it was discovered, firefighters were on their way to another home along North Shore where a lightning strike had hit a tree very close to a home.
The strike had shorted out the home's electrical system and fried all the appliances that were plugged in at the time, said Spofford Fire Chief Gordon Randolph.
Randolph was the first on the scene of the fire on Echo Cove Way and said when he saw the orange line streaking up the home he immediately called for a second-alarm.
Randolph ran back to his truck, grabbed a fire extinguisher and tried to knock down the fire.
"We're very lucky. That fire had the potential to take the whole house quickly," Randolph said. "If I didn't have my fire extinguisher and the help from one of the neighbors with his fire extinguisher, this could have turned into a huge house fire."
Once the flames were a little more manageable, Randolph said he decreased the call to a first-alarm fire.
About 30 firefighters from Chesterfield, Westmoreland and Spofford arrived on scene to prevent
An open window in the second story of the home had Randolph concerned so the attack was focused there.
"I was afraid the flames had breached the home through the window," he said. "Luckily only the vinyl siding melted and the fire didn't burn through the wood siding."
Thermal imaging also revealed the temperatures in the attic at more than 300 degrees, so firefighters had punctured holes to ensure that no flames had reached the third floor.
The only injury was to Rudolph when he picked up the homeowner's very frightened small dog.
"I got three little puncture wounds and a bruise but it was my fault for trying to pick him up," he said. "I hold no grudges and he let me pet him after the fire was out. He was so terrified during it, I shouldn't have picked him up."
The cause of the fire isn't consider suspicious.
Randolph said his best guess as to the cause is a grease fire and he's encouraging people to be cautious and alert when cooking this summer.
The homeowner told emergency responders that she was cooking dinner, went inside for a while and when she looked out the window saw the grill was on fire.
"When the grease caught fire it probably spread to the propane tank below and when it exploded the fire spread along the deck and home," Randolph said.
The chief said to prevent accidents like this, people using gas or charcoal grills need to make sure the barbecues are at least 15 feet away from the home, never near any ignitable sources and never placed on a wooden deck.
He suggested people regularly clean their grills with a brush, scraping off any residue as opposed to simply turning their grills on high and burning it off because the grease can easily catch fire.
Josh Stilts can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311 ext. 273.