EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

December 10, 2012

Floor-sanding equipment may have sparked fire

METHUEN — A two-alarm fire caused by wood-finishing equipment and materials burned a large hole through a living room floor and caused extensive smoke and heat damage throughout the rest of a single-family home on Columbus Avenue yesterday morning, fire officials said.

The fire was first noticed around 8 a.m. by a neighbor on an adjoining street, who saw smoke coming out the second-story eaves of 23 Columbus Ave. and dialed 911, according to Methuen Dep. Fire Chief Bill Barry.

When Engine 5 arrived, he said, there was nobody in the house and firefighters had to make a “forcible entry.” They found an enormous hole in the living room floor, where the fire appeared to have started.

They brought a single line through the front door, then a second line through the garage to put out the fire in the basement ceiling, Barry said.

“Our guys did a phenomenal job,” Barry said. “They cut it off on the first floor and kept it from going into the second floor.”

Nobody was injured in the fire. The homeowner, Henry Sader, said he and his wife Joelle were both at work and their children in school when the call came in about the fire.

“It was mostly smoke,” said Sader, who has lived in the home for about 10 years.

Fire Inspector Capt. Michael Buote said based on a preliminary review, it appears the fire was caused by equipment and materials used to refinish hardwood floors. He said the homeowner and a friend had been refinishing the living room floor Sunday night using a drum sander.

They had also been using acetone, a highly flammable liquid, to clean brushes, he said. They left the equipment, and the acetone, inside the house, then shut all the windows and doors while the family stayed in a hotel.

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