News Feature

Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, June 3, 2021
Cell phone charger causes house fire
No one injured in most recent blaze

by Leslie Landrigan

An unused but plugged-in cell phone charger caused a basement fire in a Moose Island home on May 30 that filled the house with smoke but caused no injuries, according to Stonington Fire Chief Ryan Hayward. All the pets got out safely, as well, Hayward said in a phone interview.

In the morning, the fire broke out in Brad Rice and Leslie McDonald-Rice’s basement, Hayward said. The charger wasn’t charging anything but still drew electricity, which ignited a flame that started to spread, he said. What saved the house, Hayward said, was the pressure from the water that leaked out from the melted baseboard heater.

“If it wasn’t for that, it would have been a different story,” Hayward said.

However, he said, “The basement was so black you couldn’t, with a flashlight, see anything.”

Firefighters did manage to rescue the pets—two cats, a dog and a lizard, Hayward said.

“Brad’s daughter was very emotional [about the animals],” Hayward said. He said the lizard was quite calm despite the commotion and popped his head up when Hayward came to rescue him.

The smoke also filled some of the upper story rooms, and firefighters were there quite a while clearing the air, Hayward said.

No rest

That afternoon, local firefighters responded to a vehicle accident on Route 15 by The Galley. Hayward said it was the fifth time he’d been called out in three days. He’d gone to a structure fire in Brooklin and the Lily Pond fire on May 28, more Lily Pond fires on May 29, the Moose Island fire on May 30 and then the accident.

After they finished up with the vehicle accident, Hayward said he looked at Deer Isle Fire Chief Brent Morey and told him, “We don’t need to see each other for a while.”