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Overnight fire in Groton destroys mobile home

By Johanna Somers and Deborah Straszheim

Publication: theday.com

Published February 17. 2014 11:00AM   Updated February 17. 2014 11:52PM

Groton — A fire engulfed and gutted a trailer in High Rock Mobile Home Park around 1:11 a.m. Monday, leaving two firefighters with slight injuries as nearby neighbors feared for their own homes.

Fire officials said two residents, a man and a woman, were in the burning trailer at 208 G St. The man awoke to the fire alarm, said Capt. Brian Kiely of the Poquonnock Bridge Fire District, and went to his neighbors to ask them to call 911.

Two neighbors reported the fire, which Poquonnock Bridge responded to along with personnel from the Naval Submarine Base, the City of Groton, Mystic and the Old Mystic Firefighter Assist and Search Team (FAST).

On arrival, firefighters found flames shooting out all the windows and the trailer "fully engulfed," Kiely said. A 20-pound propane tank on the deck was also burning, he said.

The mobile home park does not have a fire hydrant because the owner chose not to install one, Kiely said. So firefighters had to connect to a fire hydrant 1,800 feet away, on Ginger Drive.

"So that is a delay right there," Kiely said.

The roof collapsed, and there isn't much structurally to that type of a trailer, he said. "It is like a big oven, you know. It's all metal," Kiely said.

Kiely said he estimated that the firefighters were able to knock down the fire in 20 to 25 minutes.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, Kiely said. One firefighter injured an ankle from kicking the frozen fire hydrant wrench open, Kiely said. The other injured a hand.

Algie Mazzeo, who lives next door, said she woke at 1:15 a.m. to the sound of frantic knocking and ringing of her doorbell. She sat up in bed and "the sky looked red," she said.

"I just jumped out of bed and I was a nervous wreck," she said. "I looked out the window and could see the flames on (the neighbor's) back porch." She called 911.

She said by the time she reached the door, the person knocking had left.

The houses on G Street are close together, so you could toss a ball easily from one yard into the next. Mazzeo said she was afraid her mobile home might also catch fire, so she grabbed her purse, got in her car and drove some distance away. "I was terrified," she said.

Heat from the fire melted the skirting on one side of her mobile home, and there was a faint odor of smoke inside. But she said firefighters did an excellent job of containing the fire. She said they told her she was fortunate to have snow on the roof, because embers were blowing onto it.

"We were lucky because it could have been a lot worse, she said.

The local chapter of the American Red Cross is providing the two displaced residents with a temporary place to stay along with emergency food, clothing and other items of personal need.

j.somers@theday.com

d.straszheim@theday.com

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