Grass Then Home Catch Fire

Lawn Mower Backfires, Sparks Blaze in Newport

Newport firefighters spray possible hot spots in the insulation at the scene of a mobile home fire in Newport, N.H., on April 11, 2014. Bryan Brunt was manning the hose while Lt. Conroy Corey keeps a ladder steady. Newport Capt. David McCrillis is on the left. 
Valley News - Jennifer Hauck

Newport firefighters spray possible hot spots in the insulation at the scene of a mobile home fire in Newport, N.H., on April 11, 2014. Bryan Brunt was manning the hose while Lt. Conroy Corey keeps a ladder steady. Newport Capt. David McCrillis is on the left. Valley News - Jennifer Hauck Purchase photo reprints »

Newport — A grass fire that was sparked when a riding lawn mower backfired, spread to a mobile home and damaged one end of the structure Friday, but caused no injuries.

The fire was called in around noon at the home of Dalton and Marlene West on Route 10 near the Goshen town line. Firefighters were able to contain the flames to one part of the home, Newport Fire Chief Wayne Conroy said at the scene.

“The guys made a good stop,” Conroy said. “They knocked it down and confined the flames to the bedroom and bathroom on this end.”

While standing in the yard and surveying the damage, Dalton West said when the grass caught fire from the lawn mower, he first tried to stomp out the flames.

“We thought we had it, then the wind picked up and it turned on us. The wind pushed it right to the house,” West said. “Once it hit the house, I couldn’t do anything. You can see where it just melted the siding right off.”

Before the flames got too strong, West was able to step inside a small shed attached to the front of the house and shut off the propane. He also removed a propane tank from a gas grill not far from the house.

There was about 30 feet of charred grass — soaked with water from fire hoses — between the mower and the house. A portion of siding was mostly gone where the fire was, exposing charred insulation and framing, but it only spread about 15 feet along the back of the house. Conroy said the flames reached into the attic and there was some water and smoke damage in the hallway.

The couple’s dogs also got out of the house unharmed. West said the home is still livable and they have insurance. They bought the three-bedroom home last August. “Everyone is safe. That is what matters,” West said.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.