Elderly woman dies in house fire
TUFTONBORO - Fire officials said an 80-year-old woman was found dead after a four-alarm fire destroyed her lakefront home on Barber Pole Road in Tuftonboro.
Officials had not yet released the homeowner or victim's name early on Friday, but according to the property tax records, Richard Cary owns the home. Tuftonboro Fire Chief Adam Thompson said the victim was the owner's wife.
Cary, who is 78, escaped the blaze and called 911 at 1:11 a.m. Upon arrival 13 minutes later, fire crews found the two-story, wood-frame, lakefront house totally engulfed in fire. The owner met the fire chief outside and reported that his wife was missing. He told fire officials he believed the fire started outside the building.
Thompson said another complication for arriving crews was a ruptured underground propane line feeding the fire from the outside, making entry into the building impossible.
The fire is under investigation by the Tuftonboro Fire Department, Police Department and the state Fire Marshal's office. Investigators were at the scene on Friday morning. Officials said an autopsy on the victim would be performed on Friday to determine cause of death.
A Tuftonboro firefighter was taken to Huggins Hospital where he was treated for smoke inhalation and chest pains, and then released later on Friday. Difficulties battling the fire included its remote location at the end of a narrow, winding road, access to water, and a lack of parking for all the fire trucks and apparatus at the scene. He said drivers of the apparatus had to be careful not to hit the trees en route to the fire scene.
"The road was lined with apparatus," he said, adding that once the trucks arrived they were stuck in one spot, unable to pass.
Additional water tanker trucks were called to the fire, and the Moultonborough Fire Department's boat pumped water at a rate of 1,000 gallons per minute from Lake Winnipesaukee to fight the blaze. The fire was called under control at 3:11 a.m., but firefighters were still dousing hot spots into the early afternoon.
Thompson said the husband was checked out by emergency medical staff at the scene and did not require further medical attention. He said the husband was staying with family members who arrived from out of state.
Thompson said investigators would look for areas of the heaviest fire damage in an effort to determine the cause. Between 30 and 35 firefighters from Tuftonboro, Wolfeboro, Center Ossipee, Ossipee Corner, West Ossipee, Freedom, Middleton, Wakefield, Alton and Moultonborough fought the blaze. Ambulance crews from North Conway, Stewart's Ambulance Service and LifeStar EMS assisted at the scene.
According to town property tax records, the home has a total value of $810,000 - $665,000 for the land, $126,500 for the house and $19,200 in additional features.
3 of 3 Firefighters from 10 communities battled an early morning house fire on Friday. Larissa Mulkern photo