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Ossipee firefighters battle two fires within 24 hours

Chief warns never leave burning candles unattended

Mellisa Ferland Contributor OSSIPEE FIREFIGHTERS BATTLED two fires late last week. On Friday morning at 4 a.m., July 30, crews responded to a fire at Karen's Thrift Shop located in the Hitching Post apartment building. Crews were able to contain and put out the fire rapidly and though the business was destroyed none of the apartments sustained any damage. In the photo here, owner Karen Thurber arrives at the scene to assess the damage. The day before, fire damaged a home in Ossipee Corner. A woman trapped in her basement managed to make it out and was transported to Huggins Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. (click for larger version)
August 05, 2010
OSSIPEE — Area firefighters were busy fighting two fires last week. First, they responded to a house fire on Chickville Road on the afternoon of July 29. Then they battled a blaze at a local business on Route 16 B early the next morning.

The first fire broke out at around 1:43 p.m. at 160 Chickville Road, the home of the Merrow family. Upon arrival, firefighters saw that the 24 by 48 foot one-story ranch style home was involved in flames. Emergency crews left the scene at 4:38 p.m.

"We contained the fire to the living room but the house did sustain heat and smoke damage," said Ossipee Corner Fire Chief Adam Riley adding an unattended candle appears to be the cause of the first alarm fire.

An occupant, identified as Donna Merrow, became trapped in the basement, but managed to call for help with her cell phone. Ossipee Police Senior Patrol Officer Anthony Castaldo arrived first on scene and was able to pull Merrow through a basement window.

"Our duty is to protect and serve," said Police Chief Donald Grow. "He did a great job and we're proud of him."

Grow arrived shortly after Castaldo. Grow said he escorted Merrow up the driveway to wait for an ambulance while Castaldo went back to free a dog from its leash. Med Star Ambulance took her to Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro.

The family had several other animals and all of them were unharmed. Those other animals included rabbits, pigs, and chickens, said Riley. Unfortunately, a resident who was preparing for college lost her belongings in the fire, said Riley.

The Ossipee Corner Fire Chief wished to remind residents to never leave candles unattended. He added that candles require a sturdy base and should never be kept near combustible materials.

Fire departments that responded include: Center Ossipee Fire Rescue, Tuftonboro Fire Rescue, Wolfeboro Fire, and Carroll County Sheriff's Deputies. West Ossipee Fire Rescue, Wakefield Fire Rescue, and Moultonborough Fire assisted with covering Ossipee's fire stations.

The second fire struck at Karen's Thrift Shop at 60 Route 16 B at around 4 a.m. on July 30, said Center Ossipee Fire Chief Michael Brownell.

"When we arrived there were flames and heavy black smoke rolling out the front," said Brownell who added the fire went to a second alarm.

The building also contained multiple apartment houses and an ice cream stand. By coincidence, none of the children who live in the building were home when the fire broke out, said Brownell.

Although the fire was contained to the thrift shop, the apartments and the ice cream stand had to be closed. The power to the building was shut off so repairs could be made to the meter. Smoke damage also needs to be fixed. Otherwise, the building is structurally sound, said Brownell. The cause appears to be accidental. A tenant living above the thrift shop alerted authorities that there was smoke in the building. Before crews arrived someone kicked open the door to the building to check if anyone was inside the thrift shop — that caused the flames to grow because it gave the fire more oxygen. Luckily, the blaze didn't cause any injuries.

The chief noted that his crews left the first scene in the evening and then had to fight the second fire early the next morning.

"There is a fatigue factor," said Brownell on July 30. "I don't want another fire tonight."

A Red Cross Disaster Reaction Team has been involved with helping the tenants find temporary shelter. There are nine tenants at the building, of which four are children, according to Red Cross Communications Director Becky Field.

The Red Cross gave one of the families, consisting of two adults and two children, financial assistance to get food and clothing. The Red Cross also made arrangements for them to have emergency lodging. The Red Cross team also made sure that the needs of the other tenants were addressed, said Field.

The Red Cross has offered help to the Merrow family on Chickville Road. However, the family didn't require immediate assistance. The Red Cross will stay in contact with them, said Field.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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