Man escapes Gilford apartment fire by jumping from 2nd story deck

GILFORD — A man who told dispatchers that he was trapped on the second floor of a burning multi-sue building on Young Road around 6:30 Wednesday then jumped from a deck at the rear of the building to escape from the flames.
One of the occupants of the building, who asked that his name not be used, said ''He told me that he had been in the shower and that when he came out he could feel the heat from the fire. He called 911 and then went out on the deck and decided to jump because the flames were so intense.''
Tyler Kupetz, another occupant of the building, said that the man who jumped to safety shares an apartment with him but declined to give his friend's name.
''He was pretty shook up and dazed,'' said Kupetz, who said that the man, who was the only person in the building when the three-alarm fire broke out, had later sent him a text message saying that he was going to take a walk to get away from the fire scene and calm down.
The man, who was barefoot, walked down Young Road and was sitting in a police cruiser parked at the junction of where Cotton Hill Road turns into Young Road, and said he did not wish to talk about his escape at that time.
The fire virtually gutted the second floor of the building, a large structure with a two-bay garage and a workshop area with a 20-foot high ceiling on the first floor and living quarters on the second and third floors.
The building is owned by James Cookman Jr., who runs a construction business and left last week for a two-week vacation in Florida.
His parents, Jim and Judy Cookman of Dockham Shore Road, Gilford, said that they were in touch with their son who was very upset about the fire but glad that no one was injured.
Cookman drove a small farm tractor out of the workshop area after firefighters had brought the fire under control.
One of the occupants of the building, whom lived on the third floor, said that it appeared that the fire may have started in a kitchen area on the second floor and spread rapidly towards the rear of the building, where the deck is located.
Damage was heaviest on the southern and western sides of the building, where the roof and wrap-around deck were heavily damaged and the heat of the fire melted siding.
A cat was rescued from the building and given oxygen by firefighters before being taken to a shelter for the night.
Fire Chief Steve Carrier was still at the scene at press time last night and unavailable for comment.

Firefighters battle a three-alarm fire on Young Road in Gilford which destroyed second and third story rental units. One of the tenants escaped by jumping from a deck on the second floor. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)