A Hallowell man is safe after a fire started in the basement of his home and a neighbor reported seeing smoke coming out of a bulkhead entrance shortly after 8 a.m. Thursday.

Area firefighters went to the home at 21 Academy St. after the smoke was reported at 8:11 a.m.

Besides breaking through the front entrance and finding the owner of the home on the second floor, firefighters also got into the basement and extinguished the fire, preventing it from spreading into the main part of the residence, Hallowell Fire Chief James Owens said. The wood-frame home was built in the mid-1800s.

“Construction methods in those days allowed fire to spread from the basement to the attic easily,” Owens said. “It would go right up the wall, but that did not occur on this one. This was limited to the basement because of the quick response. We had guys on scene in less than 10 minutes.”

The home’s owner and sole occupant, Dennis Luosey, was not injured and was also unaware of the fire that had started in the basement when firefighters found him on the second floor, Owens said. The home did not have smoke alarms, and firefighters learned of it only because a neighbor saw the smoke.

“If this had happened at 3 o’clock in the morning, I might not have been standing there talking to the guy,” Owens said. “We were lucky.”

Firefighters from Hallowell, Farmingdale, Manchester, Augusta and Pittston were called to the scene, Owens said.

After hearing from a neighbor that someone was in the home, the Hallowell crew first used a pry bar to force their way in, Owens said.

“They did an excellent job,” Owens said, referring to the rescue.

At the same time, crews from two other departments — Farmingdale and Augusta — focused on extinguishing the basement fire.

“All three departments worked extremely smoothly together,” Owens said. “This was a textbook operation.”

Crews were at the scene until 9:47 a.m.

The fire appeared to have started near a washing machine in the basement and been the result of an electrical malfunction, Owens said. When firefighters finally managed to enter the basement, they found flames on wood timbers. The damage was limited to a wall, some ceiling joists and the electrical equipment that had malfunctioned, Owens said.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

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Twitter: @ceichacker