Car burned in Province Rd. sand pit suspected stolen from Lougee Court

LACONIA – City police are investigating a reported car theft from Lougee Court yesterday morning.

Police said that a 2001 Saturn was reported stolen at 8:02 a.m. by the mother of the owner.

Earlier in the morning, at 6:16 a.m., firefighters and police responded to the sandpits off Province Road to a car fire.

Police said they believe it is the same car that was reported two hours later.

Firefighters said the car appeared to have been burning for some time before they were called and it is believed it is destroyed.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Laconia Police at 524-5252.

Woman’s home burns hours after violent encounter with ex

NEW HAMPTON — Local police, New Hampton Fire Department officials and the N.H. Fire Marshal's Office are working to determine the cause of a fire that was reported at 2:27 a.m. Saturday that gutted the first floor of a home at 55 Main Street .

Police are also looking for a link between the New Hampton fire and a Hill assault that occurred about two hours before the blaze.

The blaze, which Fire Chief Mike Drake said nearly destroyed an old post-and beam home, was one of the strangest fire scenes the veteran chief said he ever worked.

"This is the first time I've turned the corner from (Route) 104 and found six state and local police cruisers on Main Street with officers running around with assault weapons," he said.

Drake said he first thought he was responding to a methamphetamine lab explosion but later learned that police had been alerted to check the home for Carl Grace, a resident of 55 Main Street who had allegedly assaulted the female homeowner a few hours earlier at a home in Hill.

Drake said firefighters were delayed by police in reaching the fire because he and the State Trooper in charge wanted to make sure there was no external danger to firefighters.

He said Bristol firefighters were the first to gain access to the property and by that time the fire had shattered the living room window and was burning the front porch. It took firefighter 30 to 40 minutes to get the 2-alarm blaze under control.

Drake said he understood that earlier in the evening New Hampton Police had received a call from N.H. State Troopers in Hill that there was the possibility of something happening at the home. Drake said he learned that an officer had driven by the Main Street home, had seen nothing and had gone to refuel at the local gas pumps.

He said not a lot of time had passed before the fire department was called to the building fire at 2:27 a.m.

According to affidavits obtained from the 6th Circuit Court, Franklin Division, at 11:30 p.m. Friday, State and Hill Police responded to a report of an assault and a burglary at 662 Borough Road in Hill.

State Police affidavits said Carl Grace, 48, of 55 Main St. in New Hampton entered the Hill home through an unlocked door and found his ex-girlfriend, who owns the home on Main Street in New Hampton, in bed with the owner of the Hill home.

An alleged fight ensued between Grace and the two people in the bed. Police said Grace jumped on top of the male victim and began to "pummel" him with his hands. The female said she tried to grab Grace's hair and pull him off but was unsuccessful. She said she grabbed a nearby fire extinguisher and started to hit Grace. At one point, said police, she missed Grace and hit the other man.

She dropped the fire extinguisher and Grace allegedly picked it up and began swinging at the male victim. The female victim tried to cover her new boyfriend with her body and Grace allegedly hit her four or five times before he ran out of the building.

Police said the Hill homeowner grabbed a shotgun and fired one round in the air as Grace was getting into his silver Ford pickup. Both told police Grace threatened to go home to get a gun, and return and kill both of them. He said he'd be back in 20 minutes.

Police said the female victim had visible bruising on her right arm, red abrasions on her right calf and a bruise and bump on the right side of her head.

Police said she had broken up with Grace about week before Friday's alleged assault but Grace still lived with her in her New Hampton home.

Grace was arrested without incident at 12:41 on April 4 at a home in Danbury.

Grace appeared in court yesterday by video to face charges stemming from the Hill assault. He is charged with two counts of Class A misdemeanor criminal threatening – one each for allegedly saying he would kill both victims – and one count of domestic violence criminal threatening for threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend.

Grace is also charged with one count of simple assault for striking the male owner of the Hill home, two felony counts of domestic violence second-degree assault for striking his former girlfriend with a deadly weapon (the fire extinguisher) and one felony count of burglary.

He was ordered held in the Merrimack County House of Corrections on $15,000 cash only bail.

New Hampton Police Chief George Huckins said yesterday the state police have turned the investigation into the fire at 55 Main Street to local police and fire departments with the N.H. Fire Marshal assisting.

Laconia Fire Department among busiest in N.H.

LACONIA — With close to 4,000 emergency calls among a total of 9,697 requests for service, the Laconia Fire Department remained one of the busiest in the state, according to the annual report Fire Chief Ken Erickson issued yesterday.

The 3,896 emergency calls represent a 62 percent increase in the past five years. Medical emergencies and rescue operations accounted for 68 percent of all emergency responses, while fires, both the 380 reported fires and 125 actual fires, represented 13 percent of the calls for service.

There were 1,635 simultaneous or consecutive emergency calls, more than double the number in 2000.

"The Laconia Fire Department responds to more multiple calls than most of neighboring departments respond to all calls," said Erickson.

Despite the increase in multiple calls, he said that emergency recalls, which averaged close to 300 a year, fell to 62 last year. Erickson attributed the decline to the additional firefighter on each shift funded by the Staffing Adequacy for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant which has expanded the department's capacity to respond to simultaneous calls and manage significant emergencies.

The 54 structure fires, 60 outdoor fires and 11 vehicle fires were the fewest since 2010. Erickson described 15 of the fires as "significant," with a four-alarm blaze in a multifamily apartment building on Davis Place that took the life of one resident as easily the most severe. The death was the first fire-related fatality in the city in 20 years. Altogether 17 individuals were displaced by that fire.

Erickson estimated the value of property lost to fire at $926,000, while noting that firefighters spared another $885,000 in property value from destruction. Along with the 125 actual fires, firefighters responded to more than 250 reported fires, or seven a week. The 411 alarm activations represented 10 percent of all calls.

The department responded to 2,422 medical emergencies, 118 vehicle collisions, seven entrapment rescues, 11 pedestrian accidents, 16 water or ice rescues and 72 other incidents and transported 1,841 patients -- 179 of them at high risk -- to Lakes Region General Hospital.

Erickson noted that drug overdoses, sudden deaths and cardiac arrests jumped 50 percent in 2014, with abuse of opiates contributing to a large share of the increase. He said that overdoses of heroin likely caused a dozen deaths and are suspected of contributing to another seven. At the same time, firefighters spared the lives of 25 people with timely administration of Narcan, which was used 46 times, double the number of occasions in 2013.

Firefighters also responded to 243 situations where downed wires, gas leaks, fuel spills, carbon monoxide structural failure threatened persons or property, and another 471 incidents requiring their assistance.

Meanwhile, department personnel also inspected 42 multifamily buildings, issued 1,253 permits and conducted 806 inspections of alarm, sprinkler, furnace, chimney and piping installations. And, in addition, spent more than 5,500 hours in training and education.

Erickson said that during the first quarter of 2015 the department has answered more than 1,000 emergency calls, a pace that would take the emergency call volume past 4,000 for the year. Measured by the number of firefighters and number of residents, he said that Laconia firefighters are among the busiest in New Hampshire.