Warner Hill house now a charred shell after $1.5M inferno
Fire-ravaged chimneys, charred beams and stark wall fragments are all that remains of a Warner Hill Road house that was destroyed by a raging fire early Sunday, a loss that fire officials pegged at $1.5 million.
Fire officials on Monday were still investigating the cause of the blaze, although preliminary findings are that it was accidental.
The occupants of the house at 323 Warner Hill Road -- owned by Francis and Philippa Poli -- fled to safety after the fire erupted about 3:15 a.m. Sunday. The home's roof caved in a short time later.
"While the fire remains under investigation, initial reports from the occupants of the house that the fire started in the basement seem to be confirmed by the preliminary investigation," Assistant Fire Chief Chris Tracy said. "We have an area of origin tentatively identified."
None of the firefighters battling the inferno was injured, but with numerous Fairfield fire units dispatched to the scene, mutual-aid coverage of the town's fire stations was provided by crews from Westport, Easton and Stratford.
Flames were enveloping the two-story structure when the first fire units arrived on the scene. Fire had erupted from the windows, roof and all four sides of the building.
The house, which encompassed nearly 5,000 square feet, was purchased by the Polis in 2000 for $1.165 million. It was built in 1956 and on a 1.44-acre site. The home had a cathedral ceiling, two fireplaces, a whirlpool spa, patio, wood deck and screened-in porch.
The house stood next door to "Restmore," once the home of Dr. Ira DeVer Warner Sr., the head of the clothing manufacturer that later was known as Warnaco. Restmore was added to the National Register of Historic Places by the Nationa Parks Service last year.
Arriving at the fire scene, firefighters from Engine 4 immediately initiated operations, using two 2½-inch hoses as well as a master stream device. The Ladder 1 crew joined in this operation, while Engine 3 linked up with a hydrant at the intersection of Warner Hill Road and Sherwood Drive. Water supplies, however, were initially hampered because of the extreme cold and pressure issues.
Ladder 2 backed into an adjacent driveway to set up a ladder pipe master stream operation. Engine 2 supplied this operation from a hydrant at the intersection of Warner Hill and Field Rocks roads. Firefighters from Engines 1 and 5 assisted with operating hand lines.
The fire was brought under control after about an hour and a half.