Damage due to Busy Corner fire was considerably greater than originally thought

LACONIA — Fire Chief Ken Erickson said yesterday that the origin of the fire that damaged the building at Normandin Square housing JD's Barber Shop on Thursday night appears suspicious and remains under investigation.

The first of several calls were received by dispatch at 8:05 p.m. and Lieutenant Lisa Baldini's crew arrived within three minutes to find smoke billowing from doors, windows and other openings. Some firefighters put water on the fire through a small cellar window on the Church Street side of the building while others, including a crew from Gilford, sought access to the cellar and searched the apartment at the rear of the building, which was empty. Within minutes one hose line was laid to the cellar and another through the front door, where fire had reached objects on the first floor. By about 8:20 p.m. the fire was extinguished.

Erickson said that although the frame of building escaped severe damage, the utilities — the electrical, heating and plumbing systems — were virtually destroyed. Originally he estimated the cost of the damage at $50,000, but later suggested it could reach six figures.

Just as firefighters reached the scene dispatch reported a cardiac arrest at the Normandin Square Apartments across the street from the fire. Stewarts Ambulance Service, Laconia police officers and an off-duty Laconia firefighter responded to the call, which Erickson said appeared to be the result of drug overdose.