Fire victims trying to rebuild lives after Newmarket apartment blaze

Wind helped fuel the flames when a fire started outside the Great Hill Terrace apartment complex in Newmarket on April 5.

{span style=”background-color: rgba(255, 255, 255, 0);”}NEWMARKET — An improperly discarded cigarette might be to blame for a recent fire at the Great Hill Terrace apartment complex, Fire Chief Rick Malasky said.{/span}

The four-alarm fire on April 5 damaged four units in the subsidized apartment complex at 2 Gordon Ave. owned by the Newmarket Housing Authority. The fire has been under investigation by the state fire marshal’s office, which is working with local officials.

Malasky said he’s “pretty confident” that a cigarette ignited some leaves that had accumulated along the back of the complex and that the flames then spread to a gas grill and caught the building on fire.

While investigators suspect it was an accidental fire caused by careless smoking, Malasky said that “at this point it’s being ruled undetermined unless there’s some new evidence.”

The fire appears to have started behind the apartment where Elizabeth Hutchinson lives with her two teenage daughters.

Hutchinson told the New Hampshire Union Leader that she was informed by fire investigators that a witness saw a pile of leaves on fire near a gas grill in her backyard and that the fire heated up the propane tank, melted a valve on the tank and then the hose attached to the grill.

She said she doesn’t know how the leaves caught fire.

“It was not me. My daughter and I were both up on the second floor the whole time,” she said Monday when asked if she had been smoking outside.

Hutchinson said she heard a loud boom that shook her unit. She and one of her daughters who was home at the time soon evacuated with help from others.

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