MANCHESTER, NH – Four people were displaced by a garage fire Wednesday morning that quickly spread to the attic of a residence on Lowell Street, and fire officials say assistance from a city police officer and a Hillsborough County Deputy Sherrif, who saw the smoke and were first to arrive, helped avert tragedy.
Manchester Police Officer Tony Battistelli first spotted the fire and immediately called the Manchester Fire Department and then went inside the building at 352 Lowell St., to look for residents. At about the same time, Hillsborough County Deputy Sheriff Lt. Matt Estey also spotted the billowing black smoke and headed over as well, and the two entered the building. They were assisted by a bystander, according to police, and were able to evacuate two people. A third person had already gotten out safely.
Manchester District Fire Chief David Patten said the fire was called in at 9:25 a.m. Engine 10 arrived four minutes later and found that the attached garage was fully involved with a car fire in the driveway. The garage was attached to the 2½ story wood-frame house and quickly extended up and into the attic above and next to the garage.
Fire crews, assisted by Officer Battistelli and Lt. Estey, conducted a thorough search to make sure no one else was still inside.
Police Chief Allen Aldenberg commended Officer Battistelli for his efforts.
“Officer Battistelli’s observations, as well as his quick thinking, are to be commended,” Aldenberg said. “Officer Battistelli put his own safety at risk to help others and in doing so, the tenants avoided injury.”
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chris Connelly said Estey, who has 24 years of service with the Sherrif’s department, started to experience signs of smoke inhalation after exiting the building. Thanks to the attention from the AMR ambulance crew and firefighters on the scene, he was quickly transported to the Elliot for tests, and later released.
“It looks like he’s going to be fine. I’m extremely proud of his heroic actions – he and Officer Battistelli put their own safety to the side and did tremendous work, which is to be admired and commended,” Connelly said.
The fire was brought under control at 10:10 a.m., according to Patten. Lowell Street from Ashland to Hall streets, was closed down as fire officials worked.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but does not appear to be suspicious, Patten said. The fire is still being investigated at this time. He estimated the damage at $75,000. The Red Cross is assisting residents who were displaced by the fire, Patten said.
Connelly said thanks goes out to all involved, especially the ambulance crew and Elliot staff.
“They were all terrific, and I know Matt’s family is grateful for the wonderful care he received,” Connelly said.