Another suspicious fire near Laconia railroad tracks; this time a commercial pickup falls victim

LACONIA — Police are investigating a truck fire that occurred Sunday night behind a Bay Street business.

Police said the fire involved a pickup belonging to one of the owners of an commercial condominium at 60 Bay Street.

Police said a resident said they saw someone dressed in dark clothing running away from the area toward Fair Street just before the fire. A Gilford K-9 tracked a scent for some distance without locating any suspect.

Laconia Fire Lt. Chad Vaillancourt said firefighters responded to a report of smoke and a fire smell in the area of Fair and Court Streets and traced the source to a burning truck.

Vaillancourt said the truck was "completely involved" when firefighters arrived.

A man who did not wish to be identified who lives in the area said he returned to his home around 10:30 p.m. and saw multiple firetrucks and police cars. He said he saw a pickup truck that was on fire, adding it was between two other vehicles.

He said he has since learned the vehicles on either side of it were also damaged in the blaze although the pickup that burned had been removed by officials.

The man said he sees lots of "kids" walking along the railroad tracks that are adjacent to the business lot and that they often make trouble for some of the homeless people who camp in the area.

This is the latest in a series suspicious fires that have been set in the downtown area and most of them have been near the railroad tracks.

The most serious blaze was Sept. 22 and it destroyed the commercial building on the corner of Fair and Court Streets. Six businesses, including Little Caesar's Pizza, an electrical supply company and the LRGHealthcare laundry facilities lost their places of business and their supplies.

That same morning, police also investigated a smaller fire on Bay Street that appeared to have been set but burned itself out.

Since then, there have been two fires on the back deck of Pitman's Freight Room on New Salem Street and several suspicious dumpster fires — some of which were on the same nights as the Pitman's Freight Room fires.

Last week, Belmont Fire Chief Dave Parenti confirmed there was a dumpster fire along Route 3 that was very close to the Laconia line (at a building on the same property as the Belknap Mall) and close to the railroad tracks. Parenti said the blaze destroyed everything in the dumpster and firefighters couldn't determine if it was set or not.

He said he had made surrounding community fire chiefs and police chiefs aware of the fire.

Anyone with any information about Sunday's truck fire is asked to call the Laconia Police Department at 524-5252 or the Greater Laconia Crime Line at 524-1717 for those who wish to remain anonymous.

CAPTION: The charred remains of a green Ford pickup F-250 that was burned in what officials say is a suspicious fire behind an commercial condominium on Bay Street Sunday night. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)