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Corinth Garage, Car Lost in Propane Tank Fire 

Firefighters battle a blaze at the scene of a garage fire in Corinth  yesterday morning.(Annie Cole Dolan photograph)

Firefighters battle a blaze at the scene of a garage fire in Corinth yesterday morning.(Annie Cole Dolan photograph)

Corinth — A family of four managed to avoid injury in the frigid dawn yesterday after a passing motorist stopped and pounded on the front door to warn them that their detached garage was ablaze.

The fire, which destroyed the garage at 1440 Goose Green Rd., spread to a propane tank and a truck before lighting a wall of the house on fire, according to homeowner Pamela Cook.

“She came and pounded on the door to alert us and tell us, ‘You guys have a fire. You’ve got to get out of there,’ ” said Cook, who shares the home with her fiance, Bud Labadie, and two daughters, 11 and 4.

“If she didn’t wake us up, we’d all be in it,” added Cook, a nurse at Central Vermont Medical Center.

The fire was called in shortly after 6 a.m., and firefighters battled temperature nears minus 25 degrees to put out the fire. Cook and her family huddled in another vehicle at the home and watched as the fire spread toward their home, which they have owned since 2005.

“It was terrifying. You never think it’s going to happen to you, and then it does,” said Cook, who said water quickly froze as firefighters struggled to put out the fire.

Cook said the family dog and cat, which usually sleep in the garage, were brought into the house around 2 a.m. by Labadie after the woodstove in the garage went out.

Corinth Fire Chief Ed Pospisil said the passerby probably saved the family’s life. “I don’t know who it was, maybe an angel,” he said.

Cook is also a member of the Corinth FAST Squad. Before firefighters could even get to the scene, Cook was sending updates through the radio that her garage and truck were fully involved.

“I was saying, ‘How the heck is this happening? None of our guys are on the scene,’ ” Pospisil said. “She gave us a whole breakdown, which is pretty cool.”

When firefighters arrived on scene, they found the garage fully engulfed in flames. The garage sat 12 feet away from the home, and between the house and the garage was a truck that was also destroyed. The fire spread to the side of the house and broke a window, but flames never entered the house, Pospisil said.

The house remained habitable, and the family was planning on spending last night in their home, Pospisil said.

“They’re very lucky,” he said.

The deep freeze, which caused water to quickly turn to ice, caused firefighters to slip. When conditions are that cold outside, water hoses can freeze. Pospisil said his crew made sure to never fully turn their hoses off and the crew kept a little trickle running out of the hoses when they weren’t being used.

The family had just filled two 100-pound propane tanks the day before, Pospisil said, and the best way to put out a propane fire is to simply let it burn. So the firefighters left the propane tanks on the property to burn on their own. Around 2 p.m., another passerby called in another fire because they saw the tanks burning, but Pospisil said that when he returned to the scene, the family was inside their home and the tanks were doing exactly what they were supposed to do.

Pospisil said the cause of the fire was undetermined, but not suspicious.

The Good Samaritan didn’t give her name to Cook and Labadie and quickly left, saying she had to get to work, so Cook called the Valley News in an effort to convey her gratitude.

“With all the crimes and killings out there, I didn’t even want to open the door, and she was persistent,” Cook said. “I hope you could help me get to find the lady that stopped — I really need to thank her.”

Firefighters throughout the Upper Valley were battling fires and frozen pipes yesterday because of the cold weather. Newport firefighters responded to a chimney fire around 3 p.m. yesterday. When firefighters arrived at 246 Oak St., they saw smoke and a small bit of flame coming out of the chimney. Firefighters ran a bar and chain down the chimney, which is essentially a crow bar hooked to a chain that was lowered into the chimney to break up creosote. Creosote can build up from small smoulders, Newport Fire Chief Wayne Conroy said.

There was no damage to the building, Conroy said. He suggested that homeowners check their chimneys and make sure they are clean.

Orford firefighters were also called to a chimney fire on Route 25A, but when firefighters arrived, they just found a plugged chimney and a bit of smoke in the house.

“We saw no signs of an active chimney fire while we were there,” Orford Fire Chief Arthur Dennis said.

When Dennis arrived at 9 a.m., there was a light smoke haze inside the home. Firefighters climbed on the roof and dipped a chain into the chimney and encountered a substance blocking the chimney. Once firefighters broke through it, they were able to stop the smoke from flowing into the house.

There was no damage to the house, Dennis said, and smoke cleared from the house after a few windows and patio doors were opened.

Sarah Brubeck can be reached at sbrubeck@vnews.com. John P. Gregg can be reached at jgregg@vnews.com or 603-727-3217.

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