WEST DOVER -- A two-alarm fire at a condominium complex on Dec. 26 could have been much worse if not for a pair of providential circumstances.
A handful of firefighters were in the firehouse in the late afternoon, getting ready for a reception in memory of a long-time association member who had just died, when the call came in, said West Dover Fire Chief Richard Werner.
"Because of that, we had a good first response," he said.
Werner also credited inter-departmental cooperation for preventing a bad situation from getting much worse.
"Last spring we did a live burn," he said. "A person donated a house in Wilmington and firefighters from different departments came for training. It really showed in the last few calls we have responded to."
Werner said getting firefighters together for training builds camaraderie and gets everyone on the same page when multiple departments are responding to a blaze.
"It worked really well on Dec. 26. These joint live-fire drills really help."
The call came into the firehouse at 6:20 p.m., that there was a chimney fire at 12 Suntec Loop, a side-by-side condominium duplex. When firefighters arrived, said Werner, the metal chimney was glowing bright red. Just seconds later, fire appeared, spreading to both ends of the roof.
"They went into the building but they couldn't see any flames," he said. Firefighters were able to get a ladder up and spray the fire, which was burning into the insulation between the building's roof and the interior ceiling.
The West Dover Fire Department received assistance from departments in East Dover, Wilmington, Williamsville and Wardsboro, said Werner. The West Dover Fire Department was also assisted by police officers from Dover and Wilmington, the Dover Highway Department and Deerfield Valley Rescue.
The fire did not spread to the second unit of the building, he said, and was declared under control just before 9 p.m. The cause is still under investigation by the property manager, but Werner said it was not of suspicious origin.
Firefighters used a little more than 1,000 gallons of water to douse the flames, and the unit where the fire started received extensive damage to the roof and smoke and water damage to the living area. The other unit had only a small amount of smoke damage, said Werner.
Bob Audette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter @audette.reformer.