Fire destroys Sandwich home, hoarding prevents firefighters from entering

SANDWICH, Mass. — A three-alarm fire destroyed a home on Bourne Ave. early Saturday morning in Sandwich.

According to Sandwich Fire Chief John Burke, a neighbor called 911 around 2:30 a.m.

“Our dog Murphy started barking incessantly,” said Jean Gilrei, of Sandwich. “I walked back toward my bedroom because he wouldn’t stop barking, then we both got up and saw the fire.”

Burke said no one was home when the fire started and there were no working smoke detectors inside. The homeowner lives in another town and uses the home for storage, he said.

“It’s a residential home, but we’ve had issues in the past with excessive storage and hoarding here so that’s why the building was black carded, so again, we could not make entry to the building,” said Burke.

“There was literally debris floor to ceiling on all two floors and the basement, so it’s going to be a significant operation to pick this apart and put out the remaining hotspots. It’s going to be an extended operation all day today.”

Burke said no firefighters were hurt, but they did have some water issues early on.

“We did have a frozen hydrant, we were able to get that working so water supply was an issue initially,” said Burke.

It appears the fire started outside in the back of the house before quickly spreading to the rest of the home, Burke explained.

Some of the flames spread to the woods, but no other houses were damaged.

“It was amazing, the flames were like 40 feet high,” said neighbor Joe Poti. “The firefighters did a great job and contained it because our homes are so close, so it’s always been a bit of a concern.”

Neighbors said the clutter in and around the house has made it an eyesore for years.

“There’s always been a lot of stuff at the house, it’s been packed to the gills, stuff out in the front, I know the backyard’s packed,” said Poti. “It’s always been a little bit of a worry that if it were to go up, it was going to go up quick, and it did.”

Crews brought in an excavator and multiple dumpsters as cleanup began late Saturday morning.

Burke said all of the things inside the home made the fire difficult and dangerous to fight.

“It was a dangerous situation,” said Burke. “We did have a partial collapse on the backside of the building so we kept everyone on the outside, and we knew as soon as the call came in we were not going inside the building.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.