NH fire officials say Laconia blaze linked to smoking and medical oxygen
LACONIA- The fire that caused $200,000 worth of damage to a Laconia home Wednesday was caused by discarded smoking materials, according to fire officials.
Firefighters from several towns worked together to fight the fire Wednesday morning that burned in an 1870 estate that had been converted to 11 apartments.
The Laconia Fire Department reported that the occupant of a first-floor apartment had been using medical oxygen prior to the fire. This caused an oxygen rich environment on the couch, which quickly ignited.
A Belmont ambulance transported the victim who had suffered burn injuries.
The department reported that Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid had received an alarm about 4:05 a.m. from a medical alert reporting a fire. Laconia Central Station crews arrived within minutes, and Lt. Vaillancourt reported fire blowing out of several windows on the first floor right front corner. Fire was overlapping the front of the building to the second floor and mansard/soffit. He requested a 2nd alarm, by passing the 1st alarm, which called in all off-duty firefighters, and crews from Gilford, Tilton, Franklin, Meredith and Sanbornton.
As the operation progressed and crews were deployed the smoke started pushing from the attic and cupola. A 3rd alarm was requested, which brought Meredith’s Tower to the scene, and Engines from Belmont, Holderness and Concord. Bristol, Gilmanton, and Center Harbor were now covering the city.
Stewart’s Ambulance treated an occupant at the scene.
There is substantial damage to the entire right side of the building, which according to fire officials is owned by Gilbert Trust of Laconia.
The building was built in 1870 has the home/estate for the owner of the Laconia Car Company. At the time, this was probably the biggest employer in Laconia, building rail cars that were used around the country. Over the years the home was converted into an apartment building now housing 11 apartments.
The building is 112-feet-long long by 40-feet-wide, 2 stories at the front and l 3 stories at the rear. The original 12-foot-high ceilings had been lowered to 8 feet, creating enormous combustible voids for fire to spread undetected, according to the Laconia Fire Department.