ATTLEBORO — The resident of a rented Leedham Street townhouse could see smoke and flames coming from her neighborhood as she headed home from work a little after 5 p.m. on Thursday.
Her heart sank when she turned into her street and saw the blaze had engulfed her neighbor’s side of the duplex home, and was threatening hers at 83 Leedham St.
“It’s devastating,” said the woman named April, a Sturdy Memorial Hospital employee who only wanted to give her first name. “I’m a little in shock right now.”
No one was home on either side of the duplex when the fire broke out, and no injuries were reported.
The other side of the duplex, 81 Leedham St., was still standing two hours later, but the interior was destroyed.
April has lived in the home at 83 Leedham St. for about 10 months.
Fortunately, her home seems to have escaped most of the flames, but it sustained smoke and water damage.
Firefighters were still working to put out hot spots in the badly charred two-story home two hours after the fire broke out.
April’s neighbor was not home at the time.
His car was in the attached garage, and was destroyed.
Fire Chief Scott Lachance said the fire is believed to have started in the garage.
Neighbors were alerted to the blaze by explosions.
“There were two explosions, one right after another, and then three more,” said Barbara Ryan of 100 Leedham St.
Her husband Philip Ryan called 9-1-1.
“The flames were higher than the roof,” he said.
Meanwhile, two other people rushed to the home to see if anyone was inside.
Colleen and Michael Combis were driving through the neighborhood when the fire broke out.
Michael Combis said he kicked in a glass slider door in the back of 81 Leedham St., and shouted to see if anyone was home.
An unidentified man took a wrench and shut off the gas, he said.
Firefighters cut two holes in the roof to vent heat and smoke, and had the fire substantially extinguished by 6 p.m., although smoke was still showing, along with spits of flame in places.
The duplex is one of three built in the past two years in an otherwise older neighborhood.
Attleboro Engines 2, 5, 8 and 10 responded, along with Ladders 1 and 2 and Rescue 1. Pawtucket Engine 4 was also at the scene. Mutual aid was summoned from Seekonk and Norton for station coverage.
Building Inspector Bill McDonough said a good firewall likely prevented the fire from penetrating to 83 Leedham St.
Electricity was cut from the building, and both sides were uninhabitable, he said.
According to assessor records 83 Leedham St. is owned by Leedham Properties LLC and is valued at $176,600. Anthony and Bonnie Piazza are named as managers of the company in state corporate records.
Leedham Street is off Brown Street, near the Cumberland line.
GEORGE W. RHODES can be reached at 508-236-0432, at email@example.com and on Twitter @SCAttleboro.