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Romeo saves Juliet’s house from Jaffrey fire Thursday morning

  • A two-alarm fire in Jaffrey Thursday morning destroyed a garage but was knocked down before it spread to the house. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • A two-alarm fire in Jaffrey Thursday morning destroyed a garage but was knocked down before it spread to the house. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • A two-alarm fire in Jaffrey Thursday morning destroyed a garage but was knocked down before it spread to the house. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • A two-alarm fire in Jaffrey Thursday morning destroyed a garage but was knocked down before it spread to the house. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • A fire at 25 Mountain Road in Jaffrey on Thursday morning. Photo by Tim Quinn—

  • Christopher Commander in Project Shakespeare's "Hamlet" at the Cathedral of the Pines last summer. Courtesy photo—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, June 28, 2018 9:34AM

A passing actor averted a Shakespearean tragedy in Jaffrey Thursday morning by alerting residents to an impending house fire.

Christopher Commander, who regularly summers in Jaffrey to perform and direct with Project Shakespeare, was on his way to Keene early Thursday morning when he noticed something amiss at 25 Mountain Road, the Dangelantonio residence. Commander has fond memories of that house, he said, as Elizabeth Dangelantonio was the Juliet to his Romeo in a 2009 Project Shakespeare production, and the glow and black smoke he saw coming from the garage struck him as odd.

“You know sometimes you just sort of have a hunch?” Commander said.

Commander and his driver turned the car around for a better look, and indeed, the light breaking through yonder passenger-side window was a garage fire. The garage and house, both alike in dignity, are separated by only a few feet, and so Commander rushed to the house to awake anyone sleeping inside.

“By that time, [the fire] had started to take the side of the garage,” Commander said. 

Commander banged on the door until he was able to alert Sarah Dangelantonio and help her and her two cats escape the house unharmed.

“It could have been a different story if someone hadn't notified the woman that was home,” said Jaffrey Fire Chief David Chamberlain, who responded first to the fire call around 7:30 a.m.

After seeing Dangelantonio and the cats out safely, Commander said he went into the flaming garage and attempted to save the vehicle parked inside. But, he said, the roof was aflame, and the fire rendered the garage door opener useless. 

“I was in the car and the flames were above my head, and I thought ‘Time to value my life over getting a car,’” Commander said.

Shortly thereafter, Chamberlain arrived, followed by his crew, and put out the fire before it spread to the home.

“We were lucky enough to have staffing today so we got our two engines and a tanker out real quick,” Chamberlain said. “We had a hydrant right across the street, and it’s not too far from the station.”

Chamberlain was appreciative of Commander’s efforts to wake the residents, but said entering a burning building is best left to the professionals.

“Putting your life on the line to save something that's just a piece of property that be replaced is not recommended,” Chamberlain said.