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Fire crews save house in Madison

MADISON FIREFIGHTERS rest after saving house at 192 Mooney Hill Rd. even though two barns in background were lost. (Mellisa Seamans photo) (click for larger version)
June 23, 2011
MADISON— Firefighters from around the county are being credited with saving a large home at 192 Mooney Hill Rd. in Madison early Tuesday morning. It was just past midnight when a caller to 911 reported a barn fire with several explosions at the property. The first fire crews were on the scene in five minutes.

When he arrived at the scene, Madison Fire Chief Richard Judkins radioed to dispatch that there were two large barns engulfed in flames, fire was spreading into the woods, and firefighters would be "unlikely to hold" the fire from burning the house.

In an interview Tuesday, Judkins said given the size of the fire and his years of experience in the fire service, he thought there was no way the fire crews could save the house from the fire. "A lot of people worked really hard…because of their extraordinary effort, the house was saved," said Judkins. Remarkably, given his initial grim assessment, Judkins called the fire under control just after 1 a.m. and declared that the house had been saved. The plastic soffit on the back of the house did melt and windows blew out but the house was otherwise appeared from the outside to be unscathed.

Emergency crews from the fire departments of Madison, Tamworth, Freedom, West Ossipee, Center Ossipee, Effingham, Conway, North Conway, Center Conway and Redstone all responded to the scene as well as North Conway Ambulance. State and local police were also present to assist with the crowd of onlookers that had gathered. Water to fight the fire was accessed from Emmel's Pond on East Madison Road using at least 4,000 feet of fire hose.

Investigators from NH Fire Marshal's Office were on scene through the morning conducting interviews, taking photographs, and searching for evidence of what started the blaze. Judkins said the cause of the fire is being labeled as undetermined as the investigation continues.

The last fire crews cleared from the scene just after 9 a.m. then it was back to their respective stations to wash equipment and get everything back into service for the next call.

According to town records, the 16-acre property that included two barns, measuring 38-foot by 62-foot two-story barn and 16-foot by 62-foot one-story barn, a large home, and several sheds and lean-to structures, is owned by Janet Sherman of Sharon, Mass. The property caretaker, Jory Bailey, was on scene the next morning assessing the damage and preparing to clean up the site with his crew. He declined an interview but Judkins said Bailey was very upset with the loss of the barns given the amount of work he had put into building the larger barn that was only a couple of years old. According to Judkins, the barn was completely powered by solar power and was built using materials from the land on which it sat.

Judkins reported that at least one rabbit and one chicken were killed in the blaze. Some chickens did manage to escape. There were no reported firefighter injuries.

Martin Lord Osman
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Varney Smith
Armen Kevorkian
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