‘Accidental’ House Fire on South Street Displaces Family

No one was home at the time of Tuesday’s house fire on 180 South St. House sustained “significant damage,” according to Medfield Fire Chief William Kingsbury, but “it could have been worse.”

A heating lamp to keep baby chicks warm is the likely cause to a Tuesday morning house fire at 180 South St. that has left one family without a home.

“We believe it was an accidental fire that started in the porch,” said Medfield Fire Chief William Kingsbury. “The [owners] had some baby chicks and we think a heat lamp that was keeping them warm had a malfunction. … The State Fire Marshall’s office is investigating and we all kind of came to that conclusion.”

No one was home at the time of the fire, according to Kingsbury and no injuries were sustained. The owners arrived to the scene around noon.

Kingsbury said the fire started outside the home on the porch and extended into the house, causing “significant damage.”

“The exterior porch and kitchen sustained heavy fire damage and the second bedroom up that wall,” Kingsbury said. “The rest is heavy smoke and smoke damage throughout the rest of the house.”

Medfield resident and UPS driver, Paul Cunningham, reportedly saw smoke from 180 South St. Tuesday morning and called it in. Medfield Fire Department responded at approximately 10:15 a.m.

“It’s a tough spot,” Kingsbury said of the location of the home on South Street. “You come up the hill and you don’t really notice the house. It was a credit to him for noticing it and calling it right in. It could have been a few more minutes either way and could have been worse.”

Upon arriving on scene, Kingsbury said there was heavy smoke pushing out around the house but the fire wasn’t visible at the time. As the fire department’s attack line began working on the fire, a window blew out on the porch and the fire overlapped onto the second floor.

Kingsbury said the fire department went to a second alarm and received mutual aid from Westwood, Walpole and Millis departments on scene. Dover and Sherborn Fire Departments covered the Medfield Fire station.

“The guys made a great stop,” Kingsbury said. “They could have been chasing it for awhile with the construction but it was good … the mutual aid companies that helped us, everybody worked together and did a great job.”

As for the home being saved, Kingsbury said it was too soon to know.

“It’s hard to tell until they clean it out,” Kingsbury said. “Somebody has to make an assessment. … Obviously, they can’t occupy it. We’ve turned [the house] back [over to the owners] and they are down there collecting their valuables.”

South Street was closed on both ends of the scene for nearly four hours as firefighters worked on the fire.

Cunningham’s call to the station and the efforts by the firefighters on scene prevented a family’s tragedy from being much worse, according to Kingsbury.

“It was a typical accidental fire,” Kingsbury said. “There were no injuries and you can’t ask for anything more than that. The guys made a great stop and everybody working together got the job done. … The owners will be able to salvage their belongings.”


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