BELMONT — For the second time in 24 hours local firefighters were called to respond to a multi-alarm fire that leveled a barn and destroyed the attached house Sunday night.
The fire was reported shortly after 10 p.m. at a time when both on-duty Belmont firefighters were driving an ambulance back to the station from Concord Hospital after completing a patient transfer. Mutual aid companies from neighboring Laconia and Tilton were first on the scene and found the barn linked to a Cape-style home via an addition engulfed in flames.
Assistant Fire Chief Deb Black, who said she was operating on four hours of sleep over two days, said at the scene on Monday that while the cause remains under investigation, a heat lamp being used to warm chickens housed in the barn is the likely accidental source. A nearby hydrant on Seavey Road provided water to battle the fire. The property abuts the Belmont High School campus.
Temperatures were even colder Sunday night than when the department fought a fire at 121 Brown Hill Road that was reported about 6:45 p.m. on Saturday. Sunday night the wind was pushing the fire into the attached home that was gutted, Black said. While the chickens perished in the fire, no humans were hurt.
Authorities initially believed the home was vacant but later determined the property owner was away visiting relatives.
According to town records, the property is owned by Manuel Lema Caguana, who also owns and operates All American Construction Home Improvement. The property is valued for tax purposes at $83,300.
The cause of a four-alarm fire that destroyed a barn and likely totaled the attached farmhouse at 121 Brown Hill Road on Saturday remains under investigation by the N.H. State Fire Marshal’s Office. Authorities have been unable to make contact with the property owner, Joseph Griffiths, who is the subject of legal action by the town charging that he had built an addition on the house and other structures on the property without the needed permits and alleging that he was keeping junk cars, appliances, scrap metal and commercial equipment on his land.
In June 2018, the court ordered Griffiths to clean up the property and apply for the needed permits for anything required by town ordinance, but Griffiths has appealed the judge’s ruling to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.