Equipment sparks blaze

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AUBURN – Investigators believe woodworking equipment may have been the source of an early morning fire that burned through a house basement on Poland Road.

Thomas Wiencek and his family escaped without injury after a crash and the smell of smoke roused them about 1 a.m. Firefighters knocked the flames down within minutes of arrival, but damage to the house at 67 Poland Road was estimated at $30,000.

Fire Prevention Officer Lt. Gary Simard said Wiencek kept wood and woodworking equipment in the basement. When the fire started, there was a lot to burn and the blaze spread quickly, he said.

“He had a little hobby shop down there, and it went up fast,” Simard said.

Wiencek awoke to the smell of smoke and got his family out of the home. By that point, smoke was drifting from the basement into the upper floors of the 1-story home.

Simard said the upper floors sustained smoke damage while the basement was damaged by fire and heat. Most of the equipment in the cellar was destroyed.

Simard went to the home Thursday and began investigating the cause. The source of the fire remained under investigation Thursday night. The lieutenant was expecting to return to the house on Monday to continue probing the fire cause along with the insurance investigators.

“It appears there might have been issues with extension cords and that type of thing,” Simard said. However, the cause will not be confirmed until the follow-up investigation next week.

Simard said basement fires often start when equipment is left plugged in, sawdust is not swept up, and materials are not put away.

“You need to be real careful about what is going on in a basement,” he said.

Simard also advised that basements should be equipped with smoke detectors like every other floor of a house. There was no detector installed at the Poland Road home.

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