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Wood Stove Causes Fire at RR Automotive in Grafton

  • A firefighter sprays a smoldering section of the garage at RR Automotive on Slab City Road in Grafton after a wood stove caught the rear section of the garage on fire yesterday. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    A firefighter sprays a smoldering section of the garage at RR Automotive on Slab City Road in Grafton after a wood stove caught the rear section of the garage on fire yesterday. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • RR Automotive owner Roger Robie of Grafton aids firefighters by pulling a hose closer to the back of his garage after his wood stove caught the garage on fire. Robie saw the fire early on and sprung into action. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    RR Automotive owner Roger Robie of Grafton aids firefighters by pulling a hose closer to the back of his garage after his wood stove caught the garage on fire. Robie saw the fire early on and sprung into action. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Firefighters inspect the rear of RR Automotive in Grafton yesterday after extinguishing a fire that was caused by a woodstove. No one was injured in the fire. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    Firefighters inspect the rear of RR Automotive in Grafton yesterday after extinguishing a fire that was caused by a woodstove. No one was injured in the fire. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • A firefighter checks a piece of insulation before discarding it as firefighters worked to find the last signs of fire at RR Automotive on Slab City Road in Grafton. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    A firefighter checks a piece of insulation before discarding it as firefighters worked to find the last signs of fire at RR Automotive on Slab City Road in Grafton. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • A firefighter sprays a smoldering section of the garage at RR Automotive on Slab City Road in Grafton after a wood stove caught the rear section of the garage on fire yesterday. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
  • RR Automotive owner Roger Robie of Grafton aids firefighters by pulling a hose closer to the back of his garage after his wood stove caught the garage on fire. Robie saw the fire early on and sprung into action. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
  • Firefighters inspect the rear of RR Automotive in Grafton yesterday after extinguishing a fire that was caused by a woodstove. No one was injured in the fire. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
  • A firefighter checks a piece of insulation before discarding it as firefighters worked to find the last signs of fire at RR Automotive on Slab City Road in Grafton. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

Grafton — An automotive garage that caught fire yesterday afternoon was spared from complete destruction thanks to a little bit of good fortune and a quick response time by area fire departments.

The rear wall of the two-bay RR Automotive garage off Route 4 in Grafton was still charred and smoldering several minutes after the fire was contained as Grafton Fire Chief John Babiarz spoke with the building’s owner, Roger Robie.

“You were very lucky,” Babiarz said. “Very lucky.”

When Babiarz first arrived at the scene of the fire, the flames were six to eight feet in height and “rolling across the ceiling,” he said.

“We knocked that out in about one minute, then we hit the back (of the building), which was fully engulfed.”

Shane Hodgson, who works at the automotive shop, said the fire was sparked by a wood stove, which ignited what he described as old, dry wood just above it.

“Right above the stove, it started burning, so we tried to put it out with a hose,” Hodgson said. “Once it got in the wall, it just spread everywhere.”

As the fire spread, Robie said that he and Hodgson “tried everything” to contain the flames, including throwing snow on the flames, before firefighters arrived a few minutes later.

The Grafton Fire Department was the first to respond to the scene, but the Canaan, Enfield, and Danbury Fire Departments responded shortly afterward, according to Canaan Fire Chief Bill Bellion.

Robie said that the wood stove was less than 10 years old, and suspected the fire had more to do with the walls surrounding it.

“It was just the right day and the right wind,” he said. “One little spark must have got in somewhere.”

A Volvo station wagon was in the garage as firefighters contained the flames yesterday, but there was no noticeable fire damage to the vehicle.

Robie said a wood stove had burned down a separate automotive garage he owned when it caught fire three years ago, and he had given serious consideration recently to adding an external heater to the building out of fear that it might happen again.

As he and Hodgson stood outside the back of the building yesterday, they stared at the damage caused by the flames.

“We got some work to do ahead of us,” Hodgson said.

Ben Conarck can be reached at bconarck@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.