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December 15. 2013 7:34PM

Wood stoves, fireplaces blamed for several house fires in New Hampshire

Frugal New Hampshire residents turned to wood stoves as a double-barreled hit of cold air and snow brought a preview of what winter has in store, and for some people that led to house fires on Sunday.

A series of fires related to the use of wood stoves or fireplaces were reported in the state.

Five people, including four children, were driven outside into the snow in Colebrook Sunday morning by a fire that consumed much of their home.

Chief Brett Brooks said the family was awakened by the fire in the house at 37 Hazen Drive at about 6 a.m. Sunday. Robert Champagne and four children got out of the structure without injury, Brooks said.

About 20 firefighters managed to bring the fire under control. But after returning to the station, firefighters were called back to the scene where the fire had apparently re-ignited.

The fire apparently began below and around a wood stove used for heat, according to the fire chief.

“He said it had been factory-installed,” Brooks said.

In Walpole, embers from a fire in the fireplace of a home on Wentworth Way apparently ignited a late morning basement fire.

Fire officials said the fire at 300 Wentworth broke out shortly after 11 a.m.

The fire was attributed to a cracked fireplace that allowed a red-hot ember to escape and ignite a joist in the basement. Firefighters had to contend with a slippery driveway as they brought hoses close to the house to put water on the fire.

No injuries were reported.

In Chester, a two-alarm fire caused damage to a breezeway connecting a home at 145 North Pond Rd. on Sunday afternoon.

Two people who drove past the house reported seeing smoke coming from the building and firefighters found the fire in the area of a wood stove when they arrived.

Additional assistance was called in from Auburn, Raymond, Fremont, Sandown, Candia and Derry fire departments.

Deputy Fire Chief Michael Willinsky said the fire seemed to have started near the wood stove and chimney, despite the homeowner following proper procedures for use of a wood stove.

“We sometimes find that a fire is due to lack of cleaning or inspection, but he did everything right,” Willinsky said.

The house will need cleaning before the residents can move back in; while the fire was confined to a relatively small area, there was smoke and water damage to a wider area.

“Nights like we’ve had, those are the nights that people are using the wood stoves and fire places and that’s when we have chimney fires like we’ve had,” Willinsky said.

billsmith@unionleader.com


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