The house was the childhood home of Wilmington firefighter John Hescock and is currently owned by his brother, Eric Hescock.
Wilmington Fire Chief Scott Moore says he was was en route to another call, a water alarm at the Hermitage Club, when the call about the fire came in. “So we had Dover take the (Hermitage) call and we went straight to the structure fire,” says Moore.
John Hescock says he was in Whitingham responding to a previous call when the call came in. “As soon as we get called the address gets fed over our pagers, so I knew exactly where I was going,” said Hescock. “It was hard for sure.”
Other than the family’s pets, no one at the house was home when the fire happened.
“My brother arrived after the call came in,” says Hescock, noting that he isn’t sure who called the fire in but heard it was someone who saw the fire while driving by.
Moore says that when the first truck arrived, fire was coming out of the front door. By the time John Hescock arrived in the second truck to respond to the scene, the crew was pulling hoses from the truck to attack the fire, and a second alarm had already been called.
“We automatically went to a second alarm,” says Moore. “That brings in a lot of the mutual aid units, so that way we had water right there from tankers and engines from Halifax, Marlboro, Whitingham, and Dover.”
Moore says the initial knockdown of the fire was fast, but that fire got caught in the ridge of the house’s metal roof, which proved difficult. Frigid temperatures on Saturday also created an obstacle.
“Freezing temperatures are a recipe for disaster on a fire scene,” says Moore. “It’s freezing under your feet, any water that’s coming down is freezing, and trucks are usually freezing up. But knock on wood, we had no trucks freeze up in the mutual aid system over the weekend. And no one was injured. Everything actually went really well, for such a horrible thing.”
The residents of the home, including Eric Hescock, Rebecca Fournier, and her three children, ages 8, 9, and 15, were not home when the fire started and were not injured. In addition, no firefighters were injured during the call.
Though several pets were lost in the fire, one dog was saved on the scene by firefighter Matt Somerville. On Tuesday, Fournier posted on her Facebook page that one of the family’s cats may have survived, as footprints were seen in the snow outside the house. According to John Hescock, the cat, Shylou, was found alive and was reunited with the family Wednesday night.
John Hescock says Eric Hescock and his family are currently staying with relatives and are not in immediate need of anything material. The family does intend to rebuild the house, though, and two methods for monetary donations have been established. Those who wish to donate directly can do so at any Community Bank N.A. location by letting the teller know that the funds are for either Eric Hescock or Rebecca Fournier. An account number is not necessary.
A GoFundMe campaign has also been established for the family. It can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/s5kh9g-wilmington-family-of-5.