Insurance company says entire fire-ravaged building will come down

LACONIA — Fire Chief Ken Erickson said yesterday that the insurers of the building destroyed in a 3-alarm blaze Sunday night on the corner of Fair and Court Streets have determined the portion of 164 Court Street that housed LRGHealthcare laundry services is not salvageable.

The laundry was the one portion of the building not devastated by the blaze but Erickson said the insurance company has determined it would be less expensive to raze the entire building than to save that one portion.

He also said the smoke damage to the hosptial's laundry equipment may be much greater than the initial estimate, bringing the estimated total losses to more than the initial $1 million.

Five days after the fire ripped through the multi-unit commercial facility, fire officials remain on the scene trying to determine how and exactly where the fire started.

Erickson said yesterday that the N.H. Fire Marshal, Deputy Chief Charles Roffo, and representatives from various insurance companies continue to comb through the building looking for the cause and starting point of the fire as well as assessing the damages.

He explained that two things are hampering the investigation — the building is large and it is unsafe. He said firefighters and heavy equipment operators have spent a considerable amount of time making sure the flat-roofed, 27,000-square foot building wouldn't collapse on investigators while they were inside.

An early Sunday morning blaze ripped through the building bringing four ladder trucks from as far away as Concord to the corner. Six separate businesses including Northeast Electrical Solutions, Inc, Little Caesars Pizza, and ABC Fabricating were destroyed.

Fire officials were first alerted at 2:30 a.m. by an alarm that was in the area formerly operated by Skate Escape. Although Skate Escape has been closed for two months, all of that company's equipment remained there.

The construction of a new Advanced Autoparts store at the front of the lot was affected by the fire and that effort continues.

Erickson said the fire was especially difficult to fight because of the size of the building and the rubber membrane roof that initially prevented water from reaching the blaze. He also said there were as many as six layers of roofs under the membrane, one of which was made of asphalt that fueled the blaze.

Although the blaze is catastrophic for all of the businesses that operated from what is commonly known as the old Aubuchon building, all have expressed gratitude that no one was injured.

Erickson has said he had no reason to think the fire was deliberate.