Burned camper

The camper in which a woman was killed in a Sunday night fire is towed away from High Street in Manchester Monday morning.

A woman died Sunday night inside an RV parked on a residential street in Manchester, the third person to die in a fire this year in the city and the 13th in the state.

That’s a significant jump from fire deaths in 2020. Only one Manchester person died in a fire in 2020; eight died statewide, according to previous media reports.

An autopsy was scheduled for Monday afternoon on the woman found dead after the fire in an RV that was parked on High Street on a block that borders Pulaski Park.

A 911 caller reported the fire in the motor home at 10:21 p.m., according to the state Fire Marshal’s Office. Firefighters arrived to find the vehicle well involved.

Firefighters found several propane tanks inside the RV that were feeding the flames, according to a news release from the Manchester Fire Department.

The victim’s identity was unknown as of Monday.

A person who lives in the neighborhood said the RV parked all summer on streets that surround Pulaski Park.

The man, who only gave his first name — Dennis — estimated four people lived in the vehicle and others came and went frequently.

He estimated the flames were 20 feet high Sunday night. “You couldn’t miss it,” said Dennis. He said some neighbors tried to enter the vehicle to rescue the victim, but the doors were locked.

Advocates for the homeless count people living in vehicles, including RVs as unsheltered.

About a year ago, another homeless person died in a fire. Gary Silver, 64, died of smoke inhalation when a tent he was keeping warm with a gas heater caught fire.

Through 2021, Manchester and state officials cleared several large camps of homeless people. With shelters full, many have remained on the street, Manchester police said recently.

It’s unclear how many people live in vehicles. An email sent Monday to the city director of homeless initiatives, Schonna Green, was not answered.

The 2020 Point in Time census of the homeless in New Hampshire found 164 unsheltered people in Manchester in early 2020, including people sleeping in tents and on sidewalks as well as in vehicles.

Earlier this month, Manchester Police Capt. Christopher Goodnow said tow companies lack the equipment to tow the vehicles, many which are disabled.

But even if the vehicles could be towed, few operators would have room to store them, and the tow companies would probably lose money because the owners would not retrieve them, Goodnow told the Manchester Police Commission.

Sunday’s fire took place on a night when a cold snap dropped temperatures to the low 20s at the time of the fire, according to National Weather Service data.

Just last week, state Fire Marshal Sean Toomey warned that chilly temperatures are one of three factors leading to fires this time of year.

The others include holiday cooking and increased electrical use. Heating and cooking are responsible for more than 1,000 fires each year in New Hampshire, Toomey said.

He said all heating equipment should be properly installed, chimneys should be cleaned, and all fuel burning equipment should vent to the outside. People should not cook when they are too tired or have consumed alcohol, he advised.

One of the fatal fires in Manchester was electrical in origin, likely a combination of an overloaded and faulty circuit, said Manchester Fire Marshal Peter Lennon. The other fatal fire involved smoking, he said.