PLAISTOW — Mario De Nicola had just driven more than an hour to work in Randolph, Mass., when he got the bad news.
His house was on fire.
De Nicola’s Cape-style home at 108 Old County Road was heavily damaged by a three-alarm fire that broke out at 8:30 a.m. yesterday.
De Nicola’s fiancee and father, along with his two dogs and lizards, were able to safely escape the blaze without injury.
“It’s just something you can never imagine,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
While firefighters were working to control the fire, the family watched from a neighbor’s home across the street.
De Nicola had owned the house since 1986. He said he does have homeowner’s insurance.
“I don’t know what I can say,” De Nicola said. “I’m happy everyone was able to get out safely.”
Fire Chief John McArdle said the fire was caused by someone dumping ashes from a woodstove close to a wood pile. The wood was piled under the home’s deck.
“Unfortunately, this time of year, something like this can happen,” he said. “It’s accidental. Someone gets distracted for a moment and then the wind kicks up.”
Then the fire began to spread.
“By the time we got there, the fire was completely burning through the back of the house,” McArdle said.
He said it was unclear if the house could be salvaged, but the right side of the two-story home was badly damaged.
“The garage, both bedrooms and the attic was pretty badly burned,” he said. “They had heavy smoke and water damage as well. I’m not sure what the damage is on the other side of the home.”
McArdle said gaining access to the home was firefighters’ biggest issue.
Firefighters had to cut down a portion of a tree so they could get their ladder truck to the roof.