By Evan Lips
DUNSTABLE — Fire Chief Charles Rich said investigators are trying to determine what caused yesterday’s three-alarm fire that destroyed an attached garage on Depot Street.
Rich said the fire at 172 Depot St. was first called in at approximately 11:38 a.m.
No one was injured in the blaze, but neighbor Katrina McAullife said she watched from the home’s front yard as the fire destroyed several classic cars that were stored inside.
McAuliffe, who lives at 145 Depot St., said she was inside her kitchen at around 11:30 a.m. when she looked outside her window and saw her neighbor’s garage shrouded in smoke.
She said she raced outside with her husband, Bob McAuliffe, and watched from the front yard at 172 Depot St. as the flames knocked down the garage door and enveloped the building.
“I saw the grille of one of the old cars completely surrounded by flames,” she said. “A few seconds later the gas tank exploded with a huge bang.”
McAuliffe said she and her husband, who live steps away from the garage, were on the scene before any fire officials. She added that the first firefighters arrived precisely as the gas tank exploded.
“They had us leave because it was too dangerous,” she said.
Rich said eight departments from nearby towns responded to the scene. A ladder truck from Tyngsboro helped douse flames that had been shooting from the top of the garage.
“It was mutual aid at its best,” Rich said. “We’re just relieved that everybody is OK.”
Firefighters managed to extinguish the fire before it spread to the rest of the house, but Rich said officials still need to determine the extent of smoke or other damage inside the residence.
More than three hours later, the remains of the garage were still smoldering.
“In all likelihood they may need to find a place to stay tonight,” Rich said about the owners of the adjacent home.
Property records indicate the house is owned by Francis T. Lannan, Jr., and was assessed in 2010 at $355,500.
McAuliffe said Lannan and his family, who were unavailable for comment, were home at the time of the fire.