Thanksgiving snow blankets city, 3 fires, 200+ calls for service

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Special - Storm Coverage-6310MANCHESTER,  NH — Heavy wet snow blanketed the city overnight, weighing down tree branches and bringing down multiple power lines, trees and utility poles.

As of 8 p.m. more than 15,000 Public Service of NH customers in Manchester were still without power.

Manchester Fire Department responded to three building fires Nov. 27 during and after the storm, and received more than  200 calls for service in an eight-hour period at the height of the storm.

Special - Storm Coverage-5507At 2 a.m. fire crews were dispatched to 40 Magnolia Road for a house fire that started after the homeowner started a fire in the fireplace because the power was out. At about 2 a.m. smoke detectors sounded and the residents realized there was smoke in the house and call 911. Both the mantle and the surrounding bricks were smoking and hot to the touch .

Firefighters determined that radiant heat from the fireplace ignited the walls around the fireplace and was beginning to extend to the second floor. Firefighters opened up the walls and extinguished the fire before it could extend beyond the fireplace room.

All occupants self-evacuated before fire crews arrived

At about 5:15 a.m. crews were dispatched to 275 Manchester St. for a reported fire. They arrived to find fire venting from the second-floor of the two-family home. Residents of both units and a pet dog were safe. The blaze consumed most of the second floor.

Fire officials estimate the damage at about $80,000 and the home is uninhabitable.

A third fire was called in by a neighbor who saw fire coming from a chimney at 636 Amherst St. Firefighters attacked the area around the chimney and roof and discovered the metal flue that ran concealed through the walls of the home had come apart over time and embers were being discharged into the walls of the home.  Firefighters opened up the roof and the interior walls to get at the fire.

The fireplace was being used as a source of heat as there was no power to the home at the time the fire was reported. Coincidentally, as firefighters were working at the scene power was restored to the home and the neighborhood.

Fire officials estimate $15,000 in damage.  The home is still habitable. It is owned by Cathy and Roland Bernatchez, who were out of town for the holiday. Their son Todd was in the home house sitting for the family. The cause was accidental, due to a defective or worn flue pipe from the fireplace.

About this Author


Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!