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Fire On Main Street: Residents Safe As Early Morning Fire Destroys Vehicle, Outbuildings



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UPDATE (8:52 am): This story has been updated with information and photos from the scene.

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A fire that started in a parked van Tuesday morning destroyed the vehicle, an adjacent shed and barn, and part of a centuries-old home on Main Street, but did not injure the homeowners nor any first responders to the call.

Laura and Kenneth Lerman told The Newtown Bee they were awakened shortly after 5 am by what they thought was a garbage can being picked up near their house. The owners of 55 Main Street then realized a van in their driveway was on fire.

The vehicle, owned by Laura’s brother, was quickly engulfed in flames, prompting the initial fire call around 5:20 am.

The fire spread to the small nearby shed, and then to a two-story barn at the western end of the driveway. It further extended to the office of the home, heavily damaging the space above the garage there. Flames additionally damaged a fence between the Lerman home and that of their neighbors to the north.

Fortunately, the Lermans were able to leave their home without injury.

All five of Newtown’s fire companies responded to the scene, which was within Newtown Hook & Ladder’s district. Hook & Ladder Second Assistant Chief Joe Miller had command of the scene, and approximately 24 firefighters initially responded. Others remained on standby at their respective stations.

Southbury sent a standby crew to Sandy Hook, Stevenson sent a crew to Botsford, and Bethel sent a crew to Dodgingtown. Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps also sent a crew to Main Street for standby, which is protocol in the event of a structure fire.

Fire marshals, an Eversource representative, and a rep from JP Maguire all responded as well. The incident forced Main Street to be closed between its intersections with Hanover and Church Hill roads for approximately two hours.

It took nearly 90 minutes for firefighters to knock down the worst of the fire. Another 30 minutes was spent dousing hot spots, and then packing up equipment.

Firefighters cleared from the property at 7:12 am. Fire marshals and JP Maguire remained on the scene, investigating and starting the cleanup process, respectively.

The Lermans were outside among the first responders, thanking them for responding.

Kenneth, a former longtime member of the town’s ambulance corps, was familiar with many of the men and women on scene Tuesday.

Laura, who serves as chair for Newtown Cultural Arts Commission, noted the barn had contained “every T-shirt for the arts festival, and the posters, and the library for my choir.” Lerman was referring to her volunteer work as historian and publicist for Newtown Choral Society.

“We’re fine, though,” she added.

Earlier this month, Kenneth spent a few hours painting the barn door. With a blue horizontal banner atop a yellow horizontal banner, the door resembled a Ukraine flag when he completed his project. The fire left half of the flag replica charred.

While firefighters continued to pick up equipment and finish their work in his driveway, Kenneth was reflective.

“It’s quite the picture, isn’t it?” he said, “the image of the half-burned flag.”


Managing Editor Shannon Hicks can be reached at shannon@thebee.com.

Firefighters responded to 55 Main Street early Tuesday morning, after a van in the driveway of that residence caught fire. Although the fire spread to a small shed, a two-story barn, and the rear of the home, property owners Laura and Kenneth Lerman were unharmed. —Bee Photos, Hicks
Hawleyville Firefighter Miles Ball sprays water into the second floor of the barn at 55 Main Street.
A painted Ukrainian flag on the barn door was partially charred in Tuesday’s fire.
Two contributed images to show the progression of the early morning fire May 24 at 55 Main Street.
The second contributed images to pictures the early morning fire May 24 at 55 Main Street beginning to involve the upper floor of a garage near a van where the blaze reportedly started.
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1 comment
  1. bodie says:

    440 trucks per day? 7 days a Week? They claim they will not reach that maximum usage. Reminds me of a prison in town that originally was to be a medium security that became maximum-security when we weren’t looking. Has anyone other than residents that live around Main Street noticed the traffic between 4 and 6 p.m.? Can you imagine putting 30 or 40 trucks into that mix? Voters should be watching who votes for this and the administration should accept responsibility for what’s going to happen

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