Home » News » Public Safety
Man, boy survive Manchester fire
Craig Ogden, right, and 9-year-old Jaydon Labbe relax Monday in the lobby of a Manchester hotel, where they are staying after a Christmas Eve fire drove them from their home. (Mark Hayward/ New Hampshire Union Leader)
MANCHESTER — The resident of a Pearl Street apartment said he lost nearly everything when a fire blackened the contents of apartment early morning on Christmas Eve.
Everything, that is, except the blanket-totting 9-year-old boy who calls him Daddy. And his cat, named Blaze, who is still coughing and hacking but very much alive.
Craig Ogden and the boy, Jaydon Labbe, are among the five people displaced from the two-family building at 366 Pearl St. home Monday. Manchester fire officials said they fire was so intense it initially drove firefighters from the structure, who then regrouped, re-entered and extinguished the fire.
Still, damage to the building was estimated at $100,000, and early Monday afternoon, workmen were boarding up the home, securing behind a plywood barrier any burned and soggy hopes of a normal Christmas for Ogden.
“Everything's gone, everything's gone; there's nothing,” said Ogden, 32, an unemployed lawn-care worker. That includes a 45-year-old Bonsai tree, $450 in coins, heirloom family furniture and a 47-inch flat-screen TV, he said.
Hobbled and dazed, Ogden recounted what happened in the early Monday hours when he woke to beeping that emanated from the basement. He had fallen asleep on the living room couch with Labbe beside him. (Labbe is not his biological son, but Ogden has cared for him since his birth and a breakup with the boy's mother.)
Labbe said he went to the basement to investigate. Flames and smoke pushed him back when he opened a 6-by-7-foot cedar closet where he put two cats he was pet-sitting.
He ran upstairs to get Labbe and his roommate out of the apartment. He screamed for upstairs neighbors to evacuate, and twice he returned to try to rescue animals, spraining his ankles while doing so.
He said the smoke was so thick he dropped to his knees and had to crawl outside.
“Daddy saved my life because I was sleeping,” Labbe said. “He kept going inside. I said 'come out, come out.' He could have died in the smoke.”
Ogden thought he had lost Blaze, a cat he's owned for 7 years. But the feline crawled under the bed of Ogden's roommate and burrowed inside the mattress, where it survived.
In the four days before the Pearl Street fire, three New Hampshire people have died in home fires, including a 2-year-old in New Ipswich and a 17-month-old in Londonderry.
Nearly every window of the 2 1/2-story structure was broken by early Monday afternoon. Vinyl siding discolored and crinkled outside the living room window. Inside, the living room and the bedroom of Ogden's roomate, Bob Jeffreys, showed the most damage.
Landlord Costas Georgakopoulas said it appears that an overloaded power strip was responsible for the fire. He said he was able to speak to his insurance agent, but the insurance company was closed for the Christmas holiday.
Still, he was having workers board up the property.
Ogden spoke from the lobby of a local hotel, where the Red Cross has put him up for three nights. He said the Red Cross gave him a $480 debit card and a list of possible places to move, but all were closed Monday for Christmas.
He spoke highly of neighbors, who bundled him with clothes and blankets as he watched firefighters save the structure. And he praised Georgakopoulas for keeping smoke detectors in order.
As he spoke, Ogden's eyes drooped from a sleep-deprived, adrenaline-inspired restlessness. He walked around with a tired limp. Friends called on his cell phone. And he wanted to take his cat to see a vet.
Labbe insisted on staying with Ogden on Monday, but he was to eventually go to his mother's home for Christmas.
As for Ogden: “I'll be here alone,” he said.
READER COMMENTS: 0
- Lost Massachusetts hikers found safe in NH - 0
- City police schedule community meeting - 1
- Missing Massachusetts woman returns home - 0
- Nashua man's condition upgraded after Hudson bicycle-car collision - 0
- Missing autistic Maine teen found in Jefferson woods - 0
- Nashua bicyclist hurt in collision with car - 0
- Three injured in Route 16 accident in Ossipee - 0
- State fire marshal urges eventual ban on all fireworks - 23
- Manchester welcomes 14 new police recruits - 7
READER COMMENTS: 3
- Claremont police dispatcher charged with sex assault and incest, placed on leave - 0
- Speeding stop leads to drug and alcohol charges in Hollis - 0
- Allen Lessels on Motor Sports: Youngsters eye NHMS - 0
- Mark Hayward's City Matters: Manchester's bike culture shifts into high gear - 0
- Ignoring Lyme: What are state, towns doing? - 1
- Dave D'Onofrio's Sox Beat: Red Sox makeover underway - 1
- Tom Herzig's Trackside: MacDonald has NHMS track experience - 0
- Drew Cline: Scott Brown plans to win over NH one handshake at a time - 8
- Anthony M. Kay - 0
132-mph street racers blow by trooper in Nashua, one of two arrested; motorcyclist arrested on I-93 doing 107 mph
Police say Manchester woman arrested for punching ex-boyfriend during custody exchange in Walmart parking lot
Mount Washington College to close 2 campuses
Bikers say under-30 generation isn't interested, and can't afford many of the top motorcycles
Ban fireworks? Get serious
GOP criticizes Shaheen over gas tax
Sentence fragment: Coco's cuckoo release
Ayotte calls again for FCC reform