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Manchester blaze started at stove; damage estimated at $1 million

By MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader

December 08. 2017 12:47AM
Firefighters work from atop a ladder truck at Thursday's Hanover Street in Manchester. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)



MANCHESTER — Greg Beaulieu was asleep Thursday morning when someone knocked on his door to say the century-old apartment and rooming house was on fire.

“Otherwise, I wouldn’t have made it out,” Beaulieu said after more than 100 firefighters battled the blaze at 324 Hanover St. that caused $1 million in damage.

“I’d probably be dead,” said Beaulieu, 26.

The three-alarm fire at the corner of Hanover and Maple streets started on a stovetop in a first-floor kitchen, according to the fire department.

A resident or somebody staying with him had been cooking, and investigators were working to find out whether it was “food unattended or a malfunction on the stove,” according to District Fire Chief Brendan Burns.

The 2 1/2-story building is a total loss, he said.

“It’s pretty rare we hit a million — the first time in a few years,” Burns said.

Burns’ damage estimate includes the building as well as the contents of the apartments.

Police officers and firefighters evacuated about 10 residents, he said. Authorities estimated between 15 and 20 residents lived there.

A firefighter was treated for second-degree burns to his wrist at Elliot Hospital and released. No residents were injured.

Wind gusts as high as 30 or 40 mph fanned the rapidly spreading fire, which was reported at 9:55 a.m. It was declared under control just before 1 p.m.

“Definitely a challenge with the weather,” Burns said.

At one point, all firefighters were ordered out of the building when it was deemed unsafe to be inside.

The fire spread smoke across nearby blocks, drawing onlookers who took pictures with their smartphones.

Witness John Gordon said he saw “a huge ball of fire.”

Beaulieu, who moved into the building in August, said he lost his TV and some furniture to the fire.

“It’s only materialistic things,” he said. “You can’t get back lives.”

He was in the process of moving to the West Side before the fire and had planned to move the rest of his possessions Thursday.

Resident Tony Farland said he left for the bank and came back to see smoke pouring from his building.

“I just put a wreath up on the front door” two days earlier, he said.

Built in 1910, the building is owned by the Charles G. Teas Revocable Trust, according to city records. A sign for Teas Real Estate stood outside.

City records say the building contains between nine and 30 apartments, with more than 8,300 square feet of total living area. The property is assessed at $546,400.

mcousineau@unionleader.com


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