Kitchen fire at elderly high-rise forces 200 to evacuate; 40 rescued, 2 injured

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VIDEO by Jeffrey Hastings/Frame of Mind Photo

Interview with District Chief Michael Gamache.

MANCHESTER, NH – Fire crews responded Dec. 8 to an elderly housing complex after a report of smoke in the nine-story Christos Kalivas high-rise, 175 Chestnut St., situated behind the Verizon Wireless Arena. More than 200 residents had to be evacuated, including several elderly and disabled residents of the public housing complex.

District Fire Chief Michael Gamache reported two residents were transported to local hospitals for smoke inhalation – the woman who resided in the apartment where the fire originated, and a fourth-floor resident who attempted to enter the fifth floor.

Several 911 calls were logged at about 3:45 p.m. to report that there was a fire on the fifth floor of the building. Many residents were already self-evacuating as fire fighters made their way up to the fifth floor, encountering heavy smoke all the way.


The fire originated in the kitchen of unit 504, where firefighters discovered a woman semi-conscious on the floor, just inside the doorway of the apartment.

Fire officials learned that several occupants attempted to enter the apartment before fire crews arrived to try and help the woman to safety, but were overcome by smoke which forced them to retreat.

Firefighters carried the woman down from the fifth floor, where she was treated by paramedics  and transported to a local hospital.

Fire extended to the kitchen cabinets and the ceiling above the stove. Extensive smoke permeated the entire fifth floor and, to a lesser extent, the floors above, fire officials said.

The nine-floor complex has more than 100 apartments and is home to at least 200 residents, many of whom are elderly and handicapped which made evacuation via the stairwell labor-intensive. Approximately 175 residents had self-evacuated, while firefighters rescued/assisted about 40 residents to safety.


Residents who were trapped in their apartments were instructed by the incident commander via intercom to call 911 to log their location. Approximately 10 residents did so and were immediately rescued by the fire crews, who were in the process of systematically searching every apartment for occupants.

The building is managed by Manchester Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

The cause of the fire has been ruled accidental, ignited after a plastic fan along with several other combustible materials were inadvertently dropped onto the top of a stove that was turned on. Manchester Housing Authority officials arrived to the scene, and a cleaning company was brought in to address the apartment where the fire originated.

Fire personnel remained to assist residents back to their apartments. Estimated damage is $10,000, according to District Fire Chief Michael Gamache.


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About Carol Robidoux 5819 Articles
Journalist and editor of, a hyperlocal news and information site for Manchester, NH.