City fire tested mutual aid as several emergencies happened at once


LACONIA — Fire Chief Ken Erickson said yesterday that the response to a fire in a three-story, multi-family building at 63 Gilford Ave. on Wednesday reflected the efficiency of the mutual aid and recall systems, which enabled the department to deal with several emergencies at one time.

The fire was reported at 5:07 p.m. and firefighters from Laconia, Gilford and Belmont were immediately dispatched to the scene. En route, Erickson spotted the smoke from Church Street and requested a first alarm, which called in off-duty firefighters while alerting the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Association to deploy engines to cover the city.

Erickson arrived to at 5:09 p.m. to find smoke showing from the first and second floors and requested a second alarm, which brought crews from Meredith, Franklin, Tilton-Northfield and Sanbornton to the scene. Firefighters from Belmont and Holderness staffed the empty stations and responded to three calls for service in the city.

A man was found on the lawn at the scene of the fire suffering from smoke inhalation. Since both ambulances from Central Station were on other calls, Stewart's Ambulance Service transported the victim to Lakes Region General Hospital.

Erickson, Lt. Chad Vaillancourt and firefighter Dwayne Mann were first at the scene, but had no ladder truck. Erickson requested Meredith to dispatch its ladder truck and one of the ambulances from Central Station left the hospital and came to the fire. Vaillancourt entered the first floor apartment, located the fire and closed the door until two hose lines were run to the fire. Gilford firefighters started a backup hose line then went to the second floor to check for fire and search for occupants. A man was found on the third floor and taken from the building to the hospital where he was treated for smoke inhalation.

As more firefighters arrived, ladders were raised to the upper floors and the front and rear of the building, enabling crews to open walls and ceilings. Fire was found within interior walls climbing to the second floor, where it was stopped. Erickson said that five off-duty firefighters arrived before the first mutual crew while others brought the Laconia ladder truck from Central Station, which reached the scene before ladder truck from Meredith.

Erickson described the fire as "a grease fire that rapidly got out of control." He estimated the damage at $70,000. In addition, four adults and five children were displaced by the fire and provided with food, clothing and shelter by New Hampshire/Vermont Region of the American Red Cross.

Erickson noted the two men taken to hospital brought the number of victims suffering from burns or smoke inhalation this year to five. He stressed the importance getting out of the reach of fire and smoke as quickly as possible. He explained that research shows that fires in modern homes, built and furnished with synthetic materials, burn much hotter and spread much quicker than in the past. Moreover, the volume and toxicity of smoke from modern synthetic materials is much greater than from the natural materials used in construction and furnishings in the past.

Underwriters Laboratories has found that the temperature of a fire in a modern home can jump from 250 degrees Fahrenheit to 1,500 degrees in a matter of seconds. At the same time, in modern rooms "flashover," when most exposed surfaces within a space heat to a temperature at which they ignite of themselves and emit flammable gases, occurs in less than five minutes.

Erickson recommends that renters insure their belongings. He said that 40 percent of the fires in the city occur in rental units, which is three times the national average, while estimating that nine of 10 renters have no insurance. Renters' insurance, he said, is relatively inexpensive, particularly compared to the cost of replacing clothing, furniture and other property damaged or destroyed by fire.

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Plenty of skiing and off-slope fun at NH resorts

Provided by Ski NH

It's that time of year again for families to address the ever pressing question of what they are going to do over February school vacation. In New England, the simple answer is to head to the ski resorts.

New Hampshire's ski areas have enjoyed a return to wintery weather over the last week, and a combination of fresh natural snow and snow making for many resorts over the last few days means that there will be abundant trails open for those looking to enjoy some mid-winter skiing and riding. Ideal snow making temps and additional snow showers expected over the coming days will help set up some great trail conditions for the February vacation week.

Traditionally, a ski vacation was only a good option if everyone in the family was a skier or snowboarder. However, not only do ski areas make learning to ski or snowboard easier today than it ever has been, there are also now so many activities to choose from beyond skiing and snowboarding, making a trip to New Hampshire's ski resorts the perfect family getaway for any family.

For those who have never tried the sport or who perhaps feel that their skills could use some work, ski areas  offer cutting-edge learn-to programs that truly put the fun in the learning process. Some ski areas, such as Cranmore Mountain Resort and Pats Peak, have learn-to-ski/ride programs in which a beginner will receive a complimentary pair of skis and other benefits after completing several introductory lessons. All New Hampshire ski areas also offer excellent programs for children of all ages and abilities, as well as day care programs for the youngest future skiers and riders.

From snowshoeing and cross-country skiing to fat biking and zip lining, there's almost no need to even buy a lift ticket. Almost. Better still, most resorts offer a wide variety of non-skiing or riding events all through the end of February, giving visitors even more off-piste options to enjoy.

If the thought of trying out some of the other offerings in the North Country strikes your fancy but you want to get in some skiing as well, Bretton Woods offers their Zip and Ski package for just $99. In addition to their highly-acclaimed Canopy Tour adventure, you will get a lift ticket to Bretton Woods that may be used the day before, after or on the day of the tour.

For those that have never ventured out on snowshoes, Gunstock offers a perfect opportunity with their Saturday Night Snowshoe Ridge Tours, where experienced guides will take you for a unique snowshoe tour crossing the ridge of Gunstock Mountain. Arrive by chairlift and traverse with headlamps back down to the Nordic Center for hot chocolate.

Loon Mountain offers its own take on snowshoeing adventures with their Snowshoe and S'mores Après Party. When the lifts shut down for the day, you'll ride up the Seven Brothers Double, and then take a guided snowshoe down to the Camp III lodge. After working up an appetite, enjoy a spread of hors d'oeuvres, cheese, beer, wine, hot cocoa - and s'mores, of course.

The Jackson Ski Touring Center is holding a two-hour full moon guided snowshoe tour on Monday, Feb. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. A Jackson XC guide will take guests on a tour of the trails lit by moonlight.

If you've watched the Olympics and wondered how difficult the biathlon could be, now's your chance to find out. Waterville Valley will hold its very own paintball biathlon on Saturday, Feb. 20. Bring your snowshoes or XC skis and see if you have the speed on the loop course and accuracy to hit the cartoon character, bingo board, and traditional biathlon targets.

Mount Sunapee offers the chance to test your stamina and strength on Saturday, Feb. 27 with their 6th Annual Winter Wild Racing event. Race to the summit and back down. Grab your skis, snowshoes, favorite running shoes or whatever you think it will take to be the fastest. More information can be found at

For more information on all the other great events and activities at ski areas around New Hampshire, visit

Ski NH is the statewide association representing 34 alpine and cross country resorts in New Hampshire. For more information on ski areas, vacation planning, and updated winter events at Ski NH resorts, call Ski NH at 603.745.9396 or visit the Ski NH website at For statewide travel info, visit

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Voter turnout high but most are glad the primary is over

Dave Spooner sits at the voting booth at Leavitt Park Clubhouse to cast his vote in the New Hampshire Primary on Tuesday morning.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Dave Spooner sits at the voting booth at Leavitt Park Clubhouse to cast his vote in the New Hampshire Primary on Tuesday morning.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)


By Roger Amsden and Michael Kitch, THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

Voter turnout was high across all wards in the Lake City yesterday for the Presidential Primary, and many who voted said that while it's nice to be at the center of national attention, they're glad the primary is behind them.
Helping spur the big turnout were a large number of first-time voters, according to polling officials.
"We've registered at least 50 new voters today,'' said Greg Page, Ward 5 moderator, who said that 430 of the ward's 1,338 registered voters had cast ballots by mid-afternoon and that he was expecting a large number of voters to turn out later in the day.
Many of the voters said that they had only made up their mind on how they would vote as they entered polling places, an indication that surprises might be in store when the results were tallied and compared with recent polls of New Hampshire voters.
In Ward 2, Moderator Wayne Eshelman said that nearly 500 voters had turned out by early afternoon, and Ward 6 Moderator Tom Brown said over 850 ballots had been cast by mid afternoon.
Page said that like many of the Ward 5 voters he hadn't made up his mind until he was in the voting booth. "There were a lot of candidates I thought were good and had strong messages." he said.
Susan Smith and Scott Smith in Ward 5 said they only made up their minds on Monday night and didn't say who had won their support, but Susan did say that they had received a Christmas card from Donald Trump.
In Ward 6, Jason Wylie said he made up his mind at the last moment.
"I was down to three people and was swinging back and forth, but went with my gut feeling," said Wylie.
In the end, he voted for Trump, and said that John Kasich was his second choice, followed by Marco Rubio.
Another Ward 6 voter, Rusty Davis, said that he only made up his mind at the last moment.
"With so many candidates, there was a lot to think about," he said. "I've had so many phone calls and received so many mailers. It's nice to see such a large turnout. It's time people actually got involved in who they're going to elect. What we do here will have a big impact and will carry over to South Carolina."
His choice was John Kasich.
In Ward 2, Bea Emond said that she made up her mind Monday night to vote for Hillary Clinton.
"I've been teetering between her and Bernie Sanders and didn't decide until I talked with my sister-in-law and niece who to vote for."
She made the trip to the polls with her neighbor Susan Martin, who said that she just recently made the decision to vote for Clinton although she likes Sanders' message.
"I really like Bernie but he's 74 and I just wonder: Is he the guy to beat the Republicans?" she said.
Both women said that they can't stand Donald Trump.
"He's so arrogant that he'll have us all at war"' said Martin.
Also making up their minds at the last minute on who to vote for were Todd and Rachel Rollins, who showed up the Ward 2 polls with their son, Evan.
"We've had a lot of phone calls and a lot of mail. We made up our minds two minutes ago,'' said Rachel, who said that while it is fun to be courted for their votes, "We're glad it's over."
Many others said they feel the same way, especially with the constant phone calls from polling firms.
"Oh my god," said Heidi Squires, "we don't even answer the phone any more." She and her husband Chad have been regular voters in Ward 3 for years, he since 1972 and she not as long. "I''m younger," she chirped, flashing a smile and squeezing her husband. Chad sensed a change in campaigning in this year's primary. "We only had four people knock on the door, but the we got at least six phone calls a day, often at odd hours," he said.
Both took Democratic ballots and voted for the same candidate.
"I would not have missed voting this year," said Heidi, who was less concerned with the campaign than the outcome. "I would be ashamed if Donald Trump became president of the United States."
Carolyn Muller, a Republican voter in Ward 3, said "I will be happy when it slows down. The mailing don't bother me. The people at the door don't bother me," she said. "It's the phone calls. We have children we have to get to bed by 8:30 p.m. and the phone ringing doesn't help."
But Bill Joyner, another Ward 3 voter, said, "I wouldn't have it any other way. A couple of weeks of phone calls. I'm cool. It's the American way." He said that "I vote every chance I get," explaining that "you have to stand up and make a decision."
Joyner said he voted Democratic, insisting that "America is already great" and "we only need to continue what we're doing and care for each other."
Argee and Rose Whittier voted for Hillary Clinton in Ward 4. For Rose, a native of the Philippines, it was her trip to the polls.
"I really want my vote to be counted," she said. "It is a privilege to vote and I'm very happy to be a part of this."
Donna King and her daughter Adrienne took Republican ballots in Ward 4. Donna said that with so many candidates who were not career politicians this primary was different.
"It's a very good thing to have candidates going against the grain who are not intimidated," she said. Both said that voted on the issues. Donna was concerned about amnesty for illegal immigrants and favored repealing Obamacare and lowering taxes while national security and economic prosperity were priorities for Adrienne.
"No comment," said Adrienne's 16-year-old son Tim, who described himself as "the family instigator," and said he will be voting in the next election.
"Boy, am I glad it's over," said Kevin Tobin of Ward 4. "All the flyers. And I have a land line and the phone has been ringing for the past six months. Since September anyway."
A Democrat, he said that picking between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders was a hard choice, but two months ago he decided to vote for Clinton. "But the phone kept ringing," he said.
Mark Roche, who recently came to New Hampshire from Rhode Island, enjoyed his first primary. He said he went to a few town halls and taped some debates.
"I wasn't crazy about the phone calls, but we don't have a land line," he said. He added that he and his wife shared answering knocks on the door and "I lucked out with the Girl Scout cookies."
After working for the Sanders campaign since the summer, Ginny Martin said she was "weary, but excited weary" when she cast her vote in Ward 1 yesterday. She said that she worked on Hillary Clinton's campaign in 2008 and would probably work for her again if she becomes the Democratic nominee. But, right now she said she looks forward "to learning the results, then partying."
"I don't pay a lot of attention," said one man who did not reveal his last name, then, pointing to the top of his head, added "I've had it up to here with career politicians who just tell lies and do nothing. I got to vote for the guy with the same name as me," he continued. "Donald." His wife replied that "we're a divided household" and disclosed she had voted Democratic. Unlike her husband she withheld her first name when asked, "You are?" by responding "I'm not here."

Dave Spooner sits at the voting booth at Leavitt Park Clubhouse to cast his vote in the New Hampshire Primary on Tuesday morning.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Lt. Kris Kelley looks on as Claire and Kerry Morrison place their ballot into the antique ballot box at the Gilford Community Center for Tuesday’s primary.  It is the 100th anniversary of the New Hampshire primary. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

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