Seven displaced by Manchester house fire; four cats killedBy PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader
May 03. 2018 7:06AM
MANCHESTER — Fire officials say seven people were displaced and four cats killed in a blaze that gutted a home on Old Mammoth Road Wedneday afternoon.
Manchester District Fire Chief Jim Michael said firefighters were dispatched to a two-family, single-story ranch-style home at 1316/1320 Old Mammoth Road around 3:34 p.m., on a report of heavy smoke coming from the structure. The first companies arrived at 3:39 p.m., and reported heavy fire coming from a rear deck and the back of the home.
Fire crews quickly attacked the blaze, encountering heavy smoke conditions and extreme heat conditions, said Michael. The fire was knocked down at 4:16 p.m.
While not deemed a total loss, the blaze caused in excess of $100,000 in damage to the home, Michael said.
“It’s pretty well gutted,” said Michael.
Samantha Gagnon, who owns the property with her husband Kevin, had trouble watching as firefighters looked for hot spots in the still-smoldering shell she called home.
“I bought this house 15 years ago from my mother,” said Gagnon, fighting back tears. “One of those cats was hers. It’s all I had left of her. All I had left of my mother was in that home.”
District Chief Michael said careless disposal of smoking materials on the back deck of the home was the cause of the blaze.
According to online city property records, the home was built in 1964.
Samantha Gagnon said her brother Ross McNaughton was home with three of her four children when the fire broke out.
“He helped get them out safe,” said Gagnon. “Two of them were in nothing but their underwear, and one didn’t even have a diaper on. Then he went back in for the dogs.”
Kevin Gagnon said the family’s three dogs got out of the home safely, but was unsure of the fate of the six cats they had living with them.
Distric Chief Michael said four cats died in the blaze, but two were unaccounted for late Wednesday.
Samantha Gagnon said she left the house around 3:10 p.m. to head to work at a local dance studio.
“The phone rang and one of my husband’s employees said, ‘Your house is on fire,’ and I thought they were joking,” said Gagnon.
“I rushed home, and as soon as I got here I saw the flames shooting up out of it,” said Kevin Gagnon. “I knew when I saw it it wasn’t good.”
Smoke from the fire could be seen from nearby Interstate 93.
Samantha Gagnon and her family went to a neighbor’s house while firefighters continued to wet down the burned-out structure late Wednesday afternoon. They were speaking with American Red Cross personnel about locating shelter and resources for the near future.
“I’m not sure what we are going to do,” said Gagnon. “But my babies and family are safe. I think everything’s gone, but they are all safe.”