"It's extremely critical this time of year, with the amount of snow on the ground, to get your hydrant shoveled out," he said, adding that another hydrant farther away was accessible upon arrival. "It was not a contributing factor to the fire, but needless to say, it would have helped us if we could have got to it a little quicker."
The perilous delay drew the frustration of state Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan, who repeatedly has asked the public to dig out fire hydrants near their homes in the days after the blizzard.
"This is the frustration of messaging, when it doesn't get to everyone or isn't taken seriously," he said. "Fire departments don't want to lose precious moments finding that hydrant and uncovering it. It's just a no-brainer. We need to do this to help our firefighters do their job."
Firefighters arrived to find heavy flames bursting through the windows, Duff said. Crews from Hull, Cohasset, Scituate and Norwell were called in to help battle the blaze, which several witnesses phoned in to 911 at about 11:15 a.m., authorities said.
All the occupants were out of the building when firefighters arrived, Duff said. He reported "a couple of minor injuries, nothing serious."
The Cape Cod-style home has empty parking lots on both sides, eliminating risk that the fire would spread to other buildings in the area.
Firefighters remained at the scene last night. The cause remains under investigation.
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Written by Boston Herald