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Veterans Day morning barn blaze at Londonderry Flea Market

By April Guilmet
Union Leader Correspondent

November 12. 2012 1:45PM
The burned shell of a pickup truck and pile of concrete blocks was all the remained of a two-story barn at Londonderry Flea Market Monday afternoon. No one was injured in the fire, believed to have been caused by a wood stove malfunction. (April Guilmet)

LONDONDERRY - Local fire officials believe the blaze that burned an antique barn to the ground early Monday morning may have been sparked by a wood stove.

Shortly after 8 a.m., firefighters were called to the Londonderry Flea Market on Route 102, according to Fire Captain Fred Heinrich.

Crews arrived within four minutes, but were unable to save the fully engulfed barn.

'We saw heavy flames coming up through the roof,' Heinrich said. 'Our nearest fire hydrant was over two miles away, so we immediately called in tanker trucks from other towns.'

Fire crews from Windham, Pelham, Litchfield and Auburn assisted onsite, with heavy clouds of black smoke visible for several miles down Route 102.

The tankers quickly ran out of water, forcing firefighters to rush to the nearest fire station, Londonderry South Fire Station, to refill their empty tanks.

Within 20 minutes, the barn's roof had caved in, and PSNH crews were called to the scene to repair disconnected electric wires.

The flames were under control within an hour, Heinrich said, though crews remained on the scene until shortly before noon, using heavy equipment to access several remaining hot spots.

No one was injured in the incident. Crews from Manchester, Derry and Nashua provided station coverage.

Flea market owner Pete Sapatis said he was uncertain just how old the barn was, as it was there when he purchased the property some 40 years ago.

Sapatis said the two-story barn, which he rebuilt about 15 years ago and added a new roof to in 2009, was currently being used as a 'personal garage' and for storage of various tools, lawnmowers, chainsaws and other equipment needed in the upkeep of the property grounds.

'As you can see, there's nothing left now,' Sapatis said early Monday afternoon, motioning to the smoldering pile of concrete blocks, burned out engines and black ash.

Sapatis had reportedly been working inside the garage earlier Monday morning when he stepped away for a few moments, leaving the wood stove burning inside.

Local fire officials believe a hot pipe connected to the stove may have loosened and sparked the fire.

'When I discovered the fire, it must have been burning for about five minutes, ' Sapatis said.

Asked if he planned to rebuild, Sapatis didn't mince words.

'No way,' he said. 'It would be impossible.'

While insurance funds will hopefully allow him to replace his equipment, Sapatis said he's concerned for the coming winter months, and the lack of a proper place to store such items.

'I'll need a garage bad,' he said.

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