LACONIA — A man suffered second-degree burns and his wife was taken with smoke inhalation as they sought to spare their pets from a fire that broke out at their home at 419 Elm St. shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday. While two cats perished, firefighters rescued and resuscitated “Zippy,” a chinchilla overcome by smoke.
Fire Chef Ken Erickson said the fire was reported at 1:14 p.m. and within four minutes Lieutenant Jay Ellingson and his crew of five arrived to find heavy fire from a one-story ranch with attached garage at the corner of Elm Street and Massachusetts Avenue. Ellingson requested a first alarm and was soon joined by another eight off-duty firefighters, who were attending an emergency medical services class at Central Station, with an engine and an ambulance as well as crews Gilford, Belmont, Tilton and Meredith.
Ellingson’s crew ran two hoses, one through the front porch to extinguish the main body of the fire and another through a front door to stop the fire from spreading through the house. Erickson said that the fire started on the porch alongside the garage, blew out a window, broke into a breezeway and shattered a glass door. The heat melted a ceiling fan and window shades in the adjoining room, which the flames did not reach. But, fire had climbed to the attic and run down a hallway toward the kitchen, where t was licking at the cabinets, when it was brought under control with in 20 minutes. Erickson said that because the door was closed a bedroom at the rear of the home escaped with little damage, a reminder of why to sleep with the doors closed.
Both the husband and wife re-entered the house during the fire to rescue their pets. Though they were safely outside when firefighters arrived, both were taken to Lakes Region General Hospital where the man was treated for burns to his head and the woman for smoke inhalation. Erickson said the woman told him she was amazed at how fast the fire spread and stressed that “the lesson here is get out and stay out.”
Erickson estimated the value of the damage at $70,000, but added he expected the figure to rise.
Meanwhile, standing in the cold, her chinchilla wrapped in a throw and clutched to her chest, the woman said “I may have to call him Smokey.”
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