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Northfield fire claims family's home, pets

Union Leader Correspondent

May 14. 2015 6:00PM

NORTHFIELD – A family of four is homeless after a two-alarm fire that destroyed their Shaw Road home Thursday, killing their 10 pets.

Two dogs and eight cats – a mother and a fresh litter of kittens – died in the fire, said Tilton-Northfield Fire Department Capt. Sean Valovanie.

No people were hurt. But the husband, wife, and two high school-aged children lost all their belongings in the fire, which was reported by a neighbor at 4:54 p.m.

The family was "sad at the loss of their animals, but thankful that none of them were hurt," Valovanie said.

"My understanding is that they had just left their home for baseball or softball practice," he said. "No one was home at the time, which probably delayed the report of the fire. By the time we got there, it was too late. The house is a total loss."

The fire occurred at 255 Shaw Road, which is the home of Melanie and Gary Hill, according to 2014 town tax records. Valovanie could not confirm the homeowners’ names.

Firefighters rushed to the home – which is several miles away from the center of Northfield – and arrived within 10 minutes, he said. But the single-family, one-story ranch home was "completely involved" in flames when they arrived.

They managed to save the garage, Valovanie said.

A state Fire Marshall will be on the scene Friday, he said, to help determine the cause. Fire investigators only knew that the fire started in the back of the home.

"There isn’t much left of the place," he said. "The first-floor walls are still standing but there’s nothing behind them."

The bulk of the fire was knocked down by 5:37 p.m. It was completely under control at 7:14 p.m., and firefighters left the scene at 8:47 p.m., he said.

A second alarm was needed because of the home’s remoteness and a lack of water.

"It’s a long way from town, there’s not much water up there, and it wasn’t reported right away," he said.

Several tanker trucks were needed to ferry water back and forth from water sources, he said.

The family was called back to the home, where they learned of the fate of their pets. They declined help from the Red Cross, Valovanie said.

"I believe their insurance agent helped them with temporary housing," he said.

Firefighters from Belmont, Concord, Franklin, Gilford, Laconia, and Sanbornton aided Tilton-Northfield firefighters.

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