Cumberland couple lose Diamond Hill home in Monday night fire

Cumberland couple lose Diamond Hill home in Monday night fire

CUMBERLAND - Diamond Hill Road residents Marianne and David Alger barely survived the fire that destroyed their home Monday night, North Cumberland Fire Chief Brian Jackvony told The Breeze this week.

The couple was asleep upstairs when the roar of the blaze awoke them.

Their first attempt down the stairs sent them running back up, he says, but when they couldn't open the frozen windows, they opted to plunge down again, racing through heat, smoke and flames and out the front door. Only one of their three dogs made it outside with them.

They called 911 from a neighbor's house.

Firefighters arrived to the house minutes later, which is tucked on a wooded lot down a lengthy driveway, to find the garage and family room consumed in flames that were rapidly spreading to the rest of the house.

Passers-by reported seeing flames against the winter sky from miles away.

North Cumberland Fire summoned mutual aid immediately.

By mid-day Tuesday, the fire had been ruled an accident with the investigation centered on the wood stove in the family room, according to the chief.

And the Arnold Mills United Methodist Church had established an assistance fund to help them with what was ruled a total loss.

Jackvony described water pressure complications for the several area fire departments, but rejected any implication that the destruction was greater because of it.

Police officers were at nearby Phantom Farms when the many calls came in around 11 p.m. Monday and reported arriving within a minute to the 3397 Diamond Hill Road address to find an already fully involved fire, said Jackvony.

Firefighters utilized a hydrant that had been installed on the long, dirt driveway but found the pressure insufficient, he said, because it's serviced by a smaller water line.

The closest Diamond Hill Road hydrant is about 1,000 feet from the burning house and required the firefighters to string hoses together, an alternative he says that was faster than waiting for Nasonville's tanker task force, the closest of its type in the area.

Making the firefighting more difficult, too, was the 7-degree temperature.

The Algers, misidentified by TV news crews as "elderly," raised three children at this colonial-style home. She is a teacher in Attleboro, and he is a retired Cumberland Farms executive.

They were staying with a daughter this week.

Checks may be made out to the Arnold Mills United Methodist Church and mailed to 690 Nate Whipple Highway, Cumberland RI 02864. Write "For the Alger Family" in the memo line.