Firefighters quickly extinguished a fire early Monday that damaged a rundown Victorian home at 119 Pepperrell Road in Kittery, but one firefighter was seriously injured.

The two brothers who live at the home – which had no electricity or water – called the fire department shortly after 4 a.m. to report the fire. Fire Chief David O’Brien was at the house in four minutes and saw smoke coming from the eaves and the side of one of the windows, he said.

The brothers were sitting on an enclosed porch when firefighters arrived and tried to go back inside the 2½-story building, built in 1860, but firefighters and police stopped them, O’Brien said.

Crews opened vents in the second-story windows to let the heat escape and then attacked the fire, which was concentrated in a second-floor bedroom.

O’Brien struck a second alarm – summoning firefighters from York, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard – because the color of the smoke had started to change from black, indicating burning petroleum-based contents of the building, to the brown that indicates the wood structure itself starting to burn, he said.

But crews got the fire out quickly before it spread beyond the bedroom and hallway, he said.


One firefighter badly injured his foot when it got caught in an aerial ladder that was being adjusted by hydraulics. The firefighter was taken to a local hospital, where he underwent surgery on his toes and appears to be doing well, O’Brien said.

The man’s wife recently opened a coffee shop and members of the fire department plan to help her with chores until the injured firefighter is back on his feet, O’Brien said.

Another firefighter suffered a superficial cut on his hand.

The overhaul of the fire – in which firefighters dig through debris to make sure all the smoldering portions are extinguished – was made more difficult because of an unusual accumulation of items in the bedroom, O’Brien said.

Firefighters cleared the scene at 9:30 a.m.

O’Brien said the fire started after one of the brothers fell asleep while smoking.

The American Red Cross was helping to find accommodations for the two residents.


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