EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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January 30, 2013

Man, dog escape Plaistow fire

Cats missing after blaze ravages home

PLAISTOW — When John O’Connor woke up yesterday morning, he heard the sound every homeowner dreads: the beeping of smoke detectors.

O’Connor saw the curtains in his living room engulfed in flames. He soon escaped his Cape Cod-style home at 103 Willard Way with his dog.

But the two-alarm fire, which was called in at around 9:30 a.m., heavily damaged a portion of his house.

“It’s just devastating,” O’Connor said. “I can’t believe it.”

Fire Chief John McArdle didn’t yet know the official cause of the fire, but his suspicion was it was an electrical fire. He said the fire was not suspicious.

The house had significant damage and McArdle was unsure if it could be salvaged. Windows were smashed as gray smoke billowed out of the right section of the house. Firefighters worked for more than three hours as they attempted to completely extinguish the fire.

An addition to the left side of the house, as well as the basement where O’Connor runs a custom motorcycle business, had minimal smoke damage.

O’Connor, 47, lives at the home with his wife Susan and his son Michael. Susan O’Connor was working an overnight shift as a nurse in Methuen. Michael had just left an hour earlier to go to school at Southern New Hampshire University.

“Thank God, he wasn’t home,” O’Connor said. “He would have been sleeping right above where the fire started.”

O’Connor was able to save his 12-year-old Shih Tzu, Dudley, but he didn’t believe his two cats, Sweeney and Simba, made it out.

O’Connor woke to the sound of smoke detectors and ran into his living room where he saw his curtains on fire. He ran downstairs to get a fire extinguisher, but by the time he got back to the living room, the flames were too overwhelming.

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