Dramatic scene as van bursts into flames near old Genest Bakery

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A van occupied by homeless people engulfed in flames Friday night. One man was injured. Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

MANCHESTER, NH — Several 911 calls came in to Manchester Fire Department reporting a van fire next to a building at 640 Harvard St. late Friday afternoon. Engine 7 came upon a van which was fully engulfed in flames with fire extending to the loading dock area.

Firefighters quickly knocked down the heavy volume of fire and participated in extensive overhaul of the loading dock area. There were several pressurized cylinders stored in the loading dock area that were not affected by the flames. The fire was contained to that part of the building. There is one cabinet business located in the building that received no damage to their production area. There was one victim that sustained minor injuries. He was apparently living in the van and started the fire accidentally.

The van was occupied by homeless people and one man escaped the fire and was burned. He was transported to the hospital by AMR ambulance. There was immediate concern based on information provided that there may be more people in the van. When the fire was knocked down the van was searched, but no one else was found.


The city recently took title to the building due to back taxes of more than $800,000. The former home ofGenest Bakery, the building is still partially occupied, but has been considered a blight on the neighborhood. It was found to have several code violations during a city inspection.

According to District Chief Hank Martineau the fire was limited to the unoccupied part of the building. Damage was estimated at $10,000.
The condition of the man transported with burns was not immediately known.