Residents displaced, some pets perish, in 3-family home on Elm Street

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Firefighters battle a 2-alarm blaze at 34 Elm Street on Aug. 29, 2022. Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

MANCHESTER, NH – At approximately 3:19 p.m. on Aug. 29 Manchester Fire received reports of a structure fire at 34 Elm Street. Firefighters responding could see smoke billowing in the air from a distance, and additional apparatus was added to the call.

When firefighters arrived they had the porches of one building engulfed in fire, a vehicle burning, and the fire had spread to the 3-story building on the left of the building at 34 Elm Street.
A second alarm was requested, and firefighters began searching the building on Elm Street, they were initially advised there were children trapped. It was quickly determined it was cats and kittens, and not children. Heavy fire and heat conditions caused damage to an adjacent building to the west of 34 Elm, which took additional resources to evacuate and to protect the exposed building with hose lines.
Police evacuated the building to the left of 34 Elm Street as firefighters tried to prevent the fire from spreading. Residents from the 3-story building removed some personal belongings and a dog with the assistance of Manchester Police Officers. Battalion Chief Ken Proulx said some animals perished in the fire.
A “call-back” of all off-duty firefighters was requested bringing nearly a hundred firefighters to the scene. The heat was intense, and the additional personnel was able to provide assistance to the first arriving firefighters.
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Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

The roof which was engulfed in fire began to collapse and MFD Battalion Chief Ken Proulx ordered all firefighters out of the building and fought the fire in a defensive mode. Sirens and horns were sounded on all apparatus to warn firefighters to exit the building.

AMR Ambulance offered assistance to residents who had evacuated from the buildings. One firefighter was experiencing heat exhaustion and was transported to Elliot Hospital by AMR.
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Manchester Fire Battalion Chief Ken Proulx describes the dangerous conditions as the roof was compromised, which forced him to evacuate firefighters from the building. Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

Firefighters had three ladder trucks in operation and had to work around live electrical lines at the scene. Once ladder trucks were set in place master streams of water helped douse the fire from the trucks and on the ground.

“They got in there as far as they could get. As you can see the roof – it got in through the roof and at that point we decided to pull everybody out for the safety of the men. There’s some history with this building and we all felt it, so we wanted to make sure everyone was safe here. Alll occupants got out safely,” Proulx said.
Many long-term firefighters responding to the fire immediately knew the address as the location of a fatal fire in 2000. In that fire, MFD Firefighter David Anderson and two teenage boys died in the same building
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Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

Firefighter Anderson responded with his engine company to a structure fire involving a three-family residence. Firefighters found a working fire upon arrival with reports of people trapped inside. Firefighter Anderson assisted with fire control and search and rescue functions. Two unconscious boys were located and removed from the fire building by firefighters. After 20 minutes inside the structure, Firefighter Anderson came outside, sat on the rear step of an engine, stood up, and collapsed.

Firefighters provided assistance immediately and Firefighter Anderson was transported by ambulance to the hospital. The cause of death for Firefighter Anderson was listed as a heart attack. Two boys, ages 14 and 17, were also killed in the fire. The 17-year-old boy had reentered the house in an attempt to save his younger brother. An overloaded electrical extension cord caused the fire.
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Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

After the fire was brought under control, the American Red Cross was at the scene assisting residents who were displaced from both buildings. In all, 4 adults and 2 children were displaced from the fire building along with 7 occupants of the exposed building.

Monday’s fire is being investigated and the cause and origin have not yet been determined. Firefighters are looking at several possible scenarios, and at this time it remains under investigation. Estimated damage is $250,000.
Battalion Chief Proulx said extreme heat presented a challenge for firefighters who worked to protect other nearby buildings from catching fire.
As firefighters rolled up hoses and prepared to leave a large part of the roof on the right side began to slide and collapse. The building department will work with the owner of the building and arrange for an excavator to be brought to the scene to secure the structure.
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34 Elm Street, Manchester, NH.

About this Author

Jeffrey Hastings

Jeffrey Hastings is a freelance photojournalist and runs Manchester Information community Facebook page.