METHUEN — Last night’s 2-alarm fire at 15 College Lane in Methuen caused extensive damage to the rear of the single family Cape Cod-style home, as roaring flames lit up the sky.
But Methuen firefighters responding to multiple 911 calls from concerned neighbors made a quick knockdown of the blaze, which had broken out at about 5:15 p.m.
“There were very heavy flames when we arrived, but the crews did a fantastic job. I’m proud of them,” Deputy Chief William Barry said in an interview last night.
“The fire caused some heavy damage to the back of the house, basement and kitchen. But we cut it off on the first floor. We gained a quick entry into the basement and knocked it down. The majority of house is intact and saved,” he said.
Barry estimated the fire damage to the home and loss of possessions at $35,000 to $40,000. Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire quickly because they were already nearby on Pelham Street, returning from a false alarm when the call came in.
Barry also credited Methuen Police Officer Michael Blanchette with helping to rescue the family’s German Shepherd Milo.
“We had a crew getting ready to go into the house and get the dog. Before we knew it, Mike came out from the back of the house with the dog,” Barry said.
Capt. Tim Sheehy administered oxygen to the dog with an oxygen mask, he said.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation last night.
Home owners Paul and Tanya Dube and their two young boys, one of them a baby, were able to get out of the house without being injured. They decided to stay with relatives last night instead of accepting emergency shelter, according to Ashley Studley of the American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts.
Red Cross volunteers helped the Dubes with funds for infant formula, food and smoke packs (strong detergent that removes the smell of smoke from clothing) and funds for seasonal clothing.
Barry said the Fire Department would try to get some toys to replace the presents that the children lost. He said he would also return to the house today to look for the family’s missing cat.
Neighbors rushed to help the Dube family last night when the fire broke out.
“I just pulled into my driveway and smelled plastic burning,” said Paul O’Neil, 27, who lives to the right of the Dube home.
“When I ran around the back of the house, there was a loud explosion and my ears started ringing. Tanya Dube came out of the house with a baby. She was worried about the dog Milo. I went in there and heard a second explosion. I ran out of the house and told her I couldn’t find him. I went back in, opened the basement door and black smoke came out. I couldn’t see anything and called 911,” O’Neil said.
“Out in the back, the flames were just shooting straight up into the air. The second explosion I heard was probably the electrical box, because I saw the lights go out,” he said.
Matthew Morgese, 35, who lives in the house across the street from the Dubes, said he was inside when Tanya Dube came running over with her two children.
“She was frantically screaming and yelling that her house was on fire. She wanted to run back into the house and look for the dog,” he said.
Sandy Briggs, 52, another neighbor, said she was walking into the bedroom facing the left side of the Dube house when “something like a barn fire” caught her attention.
“I heard a weird pop, looked out the window and noticed the whole back of the house was all ablaze. I saw poor Tanya running around with no coat on. I dialed 911 and came over with a coat for her. I hope they found the cat,” she said.