Brockton fire sends homeowner to the hospitalBy Maureen Boyle, Enterprise staff writer
BROCKTON — A 57-year-old man was treated for smoke inhalation after a fireplace mantel caught fire Monday night, spreading flames and smoke through a Pinehurst Avenue home.
Stephen Enos of 15 Pinehurst Ave., was taken to Brockton Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation after he was alerted to the blaze by the scent of smoke, fire officials said. He was treated and later released.
The fire, reported at 11:10 p.m., destroyed the living-room area and caused extensive smoke and heat damage to the rest of the front-to-back split-style home, said Fire Capt. Michael F. Williams.
The damage is estimated at $50,000 to $60,000, he said.
The fire started in the wood area above the fireplace mantel and may have been smoldering before it broke out, he said.
That type of fire is not uncommon when, over the years, char forms on the wood over a fireplace mantel, he said. But it can be very difficult for a homeowner to detect those formations, which sometimes occur on wood behind the mantel, until it is too late, he said.
As temperatures plummet and heating costs increase in the region, Williams said firefighters worry there could be more fires tied to fireplace use.
"This is the time of the year you will see it, when you have a cold spell kick in," he said.
Throughout the state, 31 percent of heating-related fires — or 764 — in 2003 were related to the chimney or flue. One percent — or 24 fires — were directly related to the fireplace, including the masonry or fireplace insert or stove.
The bulk of house fires occur during the cold months, state statistics show. In 2003, January was the peak month for those types of fires, December ranked second and November had the third-largest of number of structure fires, according to the state fire marshal.
In the Brockton fire, the homeowner — who was alone at the time the blaze occurred — told officials there had been a fire earlier in the fireplace.
Williams said the man discovered the odor of smoke, came down and saw some flames coming out of the mantel.
No one else was home at the time, he said.
The owner's cat was not found but Williams said authorities, who searched for the feline, believe the pet ran out of the house.