By Alex Lippa
SANDOWN — Shannon Croteau was set to enjoy a pleasant early summer day with her husband and daughter when she received a call which every homeowner fears.
Her house was on fire.
A two-alarm fire caused significant damage to Croteau’s home at 10 Aruda Road yesterday morning. The fire also killed her two pugs, Frankie and Bella.
“It’s devastating,” said Croteau, 44. “I’m in total shock.”
Croteau said she and her husband Tom bought the single-story more than 20 years ago.
“It was about month before we got married,” she said.
Their daughter, Samantha, 19, also lives in the home. None of them was home at the time of the fire.
Sandown Fire Chief Wilfred Tapley said the department received the call shortly after 10 a.m. yesterday. He said the cause of the fire was still unknown.
“The fire was flowing out of the windows,” he said. “When we got here it was fully involved.”
Tapley said it took about 20 minutes to knock the fire down. He said firefighters would be there for several hours looking for hot spots in the roof.
In addition to Sandown, Atkinson, Auburn, Danville, Derry, Hampstead and Plaistow sent firefighters to the blaze.
Aruda Road is off Pillsbury Road, west of Main Street (Route 121A), on the southern side of Angle Pond.
Neighbors said they saw the smoke shortly after the fire broke out and tried to help any way they could.
“I was working in my backyard, and I saw smoke coming out of the window,” said Scott Hartford, who lives at 18 Aruda Road. “Then I heard people hollering out ‘Fire!’ “
Hartford said he and his brother approached the home, looking to see if anyone was inside.
Hartford said when he opened the back door, he saw there was no way he could get inside.
“We yelled out to see if anyone was in the home. But fortunately, no one was home,” he said.
“The house was just completely full of black smoke,” he said. “The windows were popping; it was already gone by the time we got there.”
Tina Kelley, who lives next door at 8 Aruda Road, said she saw smoke just as she was getting ready to leave her home.
“I called 911, but couldn’t get through because others must have been calling,” she said. “There were flames everywhere, and all the windows were busting out.”
Shortly after the fire was knocked down, firefighters continued to work the scene. Firefighters used pikes to break the glass inside the window as smoke billowed from the right side of the house.
Shannon Croteau said she was out shopping in Newburyport with Samantha. The Croteaus were planning on having lunch together when Shannon received a call from a co-worker.
“I thought it was a joke,” she said. “I just couldn’t believe it.”
Croteau said she left the house around 8 a.m. yesterday and didn’t know how the fire could have started.
“I never even turned anything on this morning,” she said. “I didn’t cook, I didn’t make toast. I was the last one out of the house.”
As firefighters, continued to work on the house, neighbors gave the Croteaus drinks and food as they stood outside helplessly.
“They’ve been amazing,” Croteau said. “Just being here hugging me and being with me, I can’t thank them enough.”
Croteau said she did have homeowner’s insurance but did not know where she would be staying in the short term.
Her husband Tom said there were many items in the house that mattered, but two stood out the most. His dogs.
“We have never lived for material things,” he said. “The dogs are what’s most important in this.”