A fire burned down a home in Pelican yesterday afternoon (12-16-15). The occupants – two adults and three children – were not home at the time.

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The house fire began just after sunset yesterday (12-16-15), destroying a residence and an abandoned building behind it.

The cause of the fire, which began at roughly 4 o’clock is unknown.

Jason Strahm, with Pelican’s volunteer fire and EMS department, said he heard about it around 4:45 p.m. “We got a call saying there was somebody screaming fire on the hill, which is up the other end of town from where I’m at. We responded to that and by the time I got up there, it was pretty much engulfed in flames and you couldn’t even enter the house at all.”

Pelican has a dry line system, which pumps water from the harbor into the fire hydrants. Strahm said it took twenty to thirty minutes for that system to kick in, but once it did, the department was able to control the fire and prevent it from spreading to surrounding buildings.

But the house, along with an abandoned structure behind it, was destroyed. Strahm said the last time a house burned down in Pelican, no one was hurt either and the cause was likely electrical. “Ironically it was my parents house and it was about five years ago,” he added.  The house happened to be located right next to this one.

Strahm added that both  buildings were old and like many in Pelican, not up to fire code. “It just old buildings. There’s no sheet rock. There’s no real response time for those types of things. You just try to contain it as best as possible.”

At the time of the blaze, the five occupants of the house were fortunately elsewhere. Izaak Needham was working on his boat, while his girlfriend, Tracee Harrington, was wrapping Christmas presents at the friend’s house. Her three children, ages 14, 12, and 9 had just gotten out of school.

Harrington tells KCAW that by the time she arrived at the fire, it felt like every person in Pelican – except for the elders – was there.

Strahm confirmed this too. “There were people who brought sandwiches and coffee and cookies. Some people were watching from a distance. A lot of people were dragging hose. We had a lot of hose out that was very heavy.”

In the past 24 hours, Harrington said the family has moved into an apartment above the fire hall and that they are incredibly grateful for the help of community members, who have donated boxes of food, clothes, and hygiene products. And because she had taken them out of the house for wrapping, Harrington said family still has presents to open on Christmas Day.

Contributions may be made from any Wells Fargo Bank to Needham Fire Fund, Account # 1927578433 or Needham Fire Fund/Norm Carson. This account will close 2/17/16.