MANCHESTER, NH – Fire gutted an abandoned property at 417 Tarrytown Road on Saturday.
At about 2:44 p.m. on Jan. 12, 2019, fire crews responded to the vacant home, according to Lara Pare, a city resident who said she saw flames coming from the back of the house as she drove by, and then saw fire crews from Station 10 on Mammoth Road heading that way.
District Fire Chief Hank Martineau said Engine 10 arrived first to heavy fire coming from the back half of the two-story structure, with attached barn. After determining that the building was vacant due to the size of the fire, the decision was made to go into defensive operation, Martineau said.
Because of the instability of the structure fire officials determined it needed to be torn down, to reach smoldering areas of the building.
As of 6 p.m. fire officials remained on the scene of the fire and Tarrytown Road was closed to traffic. Crews were awaiting an excavator to tear down the burned-out structure, a total loss. Fire crews faced extreme cold conditions which caused icing on the roadways and made the fire difficult to fight. The building, which has been abandoned for years, was filled with trash and other items.
A report of hypodermic needles spotted at the scene washing into the roadway in a stream of water hint at what neighbors have known for quite some time: The property had become a hang out for drug users.
Neighbor Angela Philbrook said she has reported the house to the city “millions of times” over the past 20 years. On Oct. 8 using the SeeClickFix app, Philbrook reported foot traffic in and out of the decrepit building, as well as an increase in loitering and trash on the property.
“My neighbor said she recently noticed a squatter,” Philbrook said on Saturday, adding that the property had been slated for demolition a few years ago, back in 2017 when CVS tried to buy a vacant medical office building on Mammoth Road. That proposal was shot down by the city Planning Board with support of a vocal faction from the neighborhood, including Philbrook. Farnum Center has since moved into the medical building.
“Since Farnum moved in next door I have used the SeeClickFix app to tell them there were people going in and out, because it wasn’t boarded up. They told me that they told the owner to do it,” Philbrook said. “Never done.”
A response to Philbrook’s October complaint by the Department of Public Works stated that a demolition order had been issued for the property in 2017, but that a bankruptcy case had tied up the process. The issue was referred to the city’s Neighborhood Enhancement Team on Oct. 15, an entity made up of personnel from the city Clerk’s office, Building and Planning, Health, police and highway departments, who deal with similar complaints around the city.
Public Works updated the complaint by Philbrook in October to say that if the property was found to be in “dilapidated condition, and if conditions haven’t changed, they will issue a demolition order to the new owners.”
According to the most recent available city records, the property, assessed at $178,200, was sold for $26,700 on March 3, 2018 to “IDOL TR.” The property had been listed for auction by JSJ Auctions, but results of the auction were not available.
“The neighbors in the corner are letting us drive over their lawn if we need to leave, since this is a dead-end street and Tarrytown is our only way out and in. My son had to park at the park – can’t get to the house now,” Philbrook said. “Hope we don’t need an ambulance.”
In all, five engines, two trucks, and one rescue truck responded. The fire is under investigation and cause is undetermined at this time, Martineau said. Damage was estimated at $100,000.