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Man Hospitalized in Enfield Fire That Destroys Garage

Jessica McKinley, of Enfield, photographs damage to the back of her house yesterday from Monday night’s garage fire. Her husband, Josh McKinley,  was dismantling a car for scrap metal when the fire started. Initially treated at DHMC, he was moved to the burn center at Massachusetts General Hospital yesterday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Jessica McKinley, of Enfield, photographs damage to the back of her house yesterday from Monday night’s garage fire. Her husband, Josh McKinley, was dismantling a car for scrap metal when the fire started. Initially treated at DHMC, he was moved to the burn center at Massachusetts General Hospital yesterday. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Enfield — An Enfield man who was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital yesterday morning is now listed in fair condition after a garage fire that burned him on the upper-chest, arms and face.

Enfield Fire Chief David Crate said Josh McKinley, 33, of 25 Melinda St., was working Monday night on his cars when something inside one of them ignited, causing a fire that destroyed his detached garage and melted the vinyl siding on the back porch of his home.

Fire departments from Enfield, Canaan and Lebanon responded to a call that came in at 8:22 p.m., Crate said. When they arrived at the scene, they found the garage fully engulfed in flames, and worked for just under an hour to bring the fire under control, Crate said.

McKinley was transported Monday night to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and looked “quite red,” Crate said, adding in a phone interview that the fire “was probably one of the worst ones we’ve had in some time.”

After roping off the charred garage in yellow caution tape, Crate said they cleared the scene around 11:30 p.m.

“We consider the fire accidental,” Crate said.

For Jessica McKinley, Josh’s wife, yesterday morning’s aftermath added aggravation to the trauma.

She waited in the rain for insurance agents, who were coming to give her an estimate of the damage. TV reporters arrived instead. She told them that her husband had been transported to a burn unit at Massachusetts General earlier yesterday for evaluation.

Jessica McKinley said she was inside the house on Monday night when she noticed the fire.

“I had just gotten home from my 14-year-old daughter’s eighth-grade graduation,” she said, then saw “a big ball of flames coming out of the garage,” which was located behind the house and separated by a driveway.

Blue and purple streaks from the fire illuminated the night sky, she recalled, and she called 911 immediately.

She rushed to her car and moved it into the street, as far away from the fire as possible.

Josh McKinley had run outside the burning garage, she said, and together they waited for the fire crews to arrive. Jessica McKinley said she noticed her husband had burns, but said he didn’t seem to be in terrible pain.

“At first, he didn’t to go (to the hospital),” Jessica said, “but the fire chief encouraged us to go.”

Jessica McKinley said that before the fire started, her husband had been “cutting” a catalytic converter out of a car he was looking to sell.

Their guess, she said, is that a spark ignited a reaction within the fuel line.

Josh McKinley liked to spray paint cars, too, according to his wife, and stored several different kinds of chemicals in the garage that could have acted as an accelerant.

“It’s possible that they could have added to the fire too,” Jessica McKinley said, staring at the remnants of the garage.

The smell of the burnt structure clung to the air. The plastic basketball hoop near the garage’s entry was warped. The roof had collapsed, and the two cars inside were charred.

The fire also singed over-hanging branches, and the vinyl siding from the house had popped open, peeled apart by the heat.

Jessica McKinley said yesterday that she would be driving to the hospital in Massachusetts to visit her husband, who was talking and able to get up to use the bathroom.

She reflected yesterday that despite the damage, it could have been worse.

“If the fire department didn’t come when they did, the house would have probably burned down,” she said.

Staff Writer Sarah Brubeck contributed to this story. Zack Peterson can be reached at 603-727-3211 or zpeterson@vnews.com.