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Second fire in nine months breaks out inside Kingston plaza

Union Leader Correspondent

September 10. 2018 1:29PM
The glass on the front door of Homestead Kitchen Centre was shattered by police Monday as they tried to get inside to help put out a fire. (Jason Schreiber/Union Leader Correspondent)

KINGSTON — Police Chief Donald Briggs Jr. and Sgt. Michael LePage used fire extinguishers to smash the locked front door of Homestead Kitchen Centre and help put out the flames after a fire broke out late Monday morning and filled the business with smoke.

For the second time in nine months, police and firefighters responded to the Carriage Towne Plaza at 53 Church St. for a fire inside the commercial building that houses several businesses, including the Kingston Post Office.

“When I got there, I looked in the front and you could see the place was full of smoke and at the corner of the building I could see smoke coming out from the eaves,” Briggs said.

Fire Chief Bill Seaman said the cause of the fire hasn’t been determined but it appears to have started while a plumber was working in the back of the business, which sustained smoke and structural damage.

Smoke damage also was reported at Conquer Self Defense, located next to the Homestead Kitchen Centre.

All of the businesses in the building were evacuated as a precaution.

Briggs said it appeared the plumber was trying to extinguish the fire when police arrived, followed by local firefighters.

“He couldn’t even breathe in there. We got him out of the building,” he said.

Another blaze on Jan. 17 heavily damaged Carriage Towne Market. The market, which has remained closed, is in the same building.

The market fire allegedly was set by John Gates, a Kingston man who faces charges of burglary, arson, attempted arson, being felon in possession of a dangerous weapon and possession or use of a Molotov cocktail.

Prosecutors said they believe a glass containing a flammable liquid with a wick, commonly known as a Molotov cocktail, was used in that fire, which forced Exeter Hospital’s physical therapy office located nearby to relocate due to smoke damage.

Glen Romel, who owns Stitched in Stone, was working on paperwork when Monday’s fire started.

Romel said the fabric and quilt shop he runs with his wife was closed for about two months after the January fire because of smoke that spread throughout the building.

“I said, ‘Oh no.’ We just got everything back together,” he said.

He expressed relief when he learned Monday’s fire was put out quickly and didn’t impact his business.

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