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An off-duty Baltimore firefighter who spotted flames climbing up the back of a Dover Township home as he drove past jumped into action and likely saved the home from serious damage, a fire official said.

"He used a neighbor's garden hose to help hold the fire in check until we got there," Dover Township Deputy Fire Chief Brian Widmayer said.

Had the off-duty firefighter not acted quickly, "it would have been a lot worse than it was," he said.

Dover Township firefighters were called to the 3400 block of Village Court Drive shortly before 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, according to the York County 911 Center.

When crews arrived, the Baltimore firefighter had doused most of the visible flames, which had started at the back of the house and spread up the siding and into the attic, Widmayer said.

But crews stayed on scene for about an hour, searching for any fire extension, he said.

Firefighters found two areas where fire was hiding, Widmayer said — in attic insulation and in insulation in the attached shed at the back of the home.

Had those smoldering areas not been found, "we would've been back in a couple hours for a big fire," he said.

Minor damage: As it was, the damage is mainly cosmetic, with just minor extension into attic insulation, said Widmayer, who estimated total damage at $15,000 to $20,000.

The residents of the home weren't displaced, he said, and no one was hurt.

The townhouse is owned by the York Housing Authority, he said. No one was home at the time.

Careless smoking caused the blaze, according to the deputy chief. Someone discarded a lit cigarette in a recycling bin behind the home, he said.

The burning siding caused black smoke to billow in the air, which attracted attention, according to Widmayer, who said several people called 911.

"One of our township supervisors called me directly," he said. "He saw the black smoke from two blocks away."

An attached townhouse sustained some exterior fire damage, Widmayer said.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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