Improperly vented pellet stove starts fire in Gilford

GILFORD – Firefighters extinguished a chimney fire that had begun to extend into a house at 193 Chestnut Drive early yesterday morning.

Fire Chief Steve Carrier said firefighters were initially called at 5:03 a.m. by the homeowners who smelled smoke.

While en route, Carrier said additional information came in that there was a fire in the house and the supervisor called for a first alarm bringing Laconia, and Belmont to the house and Meredith and Tilton-Northfield to provide station coverage.

"It appears the fire started as the result of improper venting of the pellet store on the first floor," said Carrier. He said the fire department will be investigating the installation of the stove.

Carrier said the driveway was very steep and slippery but no firefighters or occupants were injured. He estimated damage at about $5,000.

Laconia man charged with beating, choking his girlfriend held on $60,000 cash bail

LACONIA – A man who apparently has addresses in Nashua and Laconia is being held on $60,000 cash or corporate surety after allegedly beating and choking his girlfriend on two separate occasions earlier this month.

Police affidavits obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, yesterday said Roberto Nieves, 28, began arguing with his girlfriend around 3 p.m. on New Years Day. She told police when she went to leave, he grabbed her by the inside of her arms and pinned her to the wall.

She told the police he grabbed and squeezed her face while he was "smacking her" and telling her she wasn't allowed to leave. She told the officer that he only stopped squeezing her face when he thought he had broken her jaw.

The victim said he calmed down for a while, but at 9 p.m. two of her female friends came to the house and during that time the two had a second argument when Nieves told her friends they had to leave.

When she tried to leave with them, he allegedly went outside and told her she wasn't allowed to leave. One of her friends was able to distract him, and the alleged victim jumped in the car. Nieves allegedly jumped on the back of the car and started pounding on the rear window with his fist.

The victim went to police the next day and her two friends corroborated her story.

That same day, police also went to where the victim was staying to get evidence about an assault on Dec. 31. She said while she was cooking dinner, they began arguing and he grabbed her again by the jaw.

She said when he felt she was ignoring him, Nieves allegedly picked her up and threw her against a wall. She said he started squeezing her throat and when she didn't look at him, he alleged grabbed a large kitchen knife and pressed the blade to her chin.

The alleged victim said at some point he calmed down.

During her interview with police on Jan. 2, she said she was "extremely fearful" of Nieves and alleged he had assaulted her a number of times in the past including throwing her down the stairs. Police said the alleged victim had different colored bruises on her arms, legs, face and torso indicting multiple assaults and different times.

During the investigation, Laconia Police determined Nieves, who also goes by the name Roberto Roig, may be an alias and that he has ties to Nashua. The alleged victim told police that Nieves is a member of the Latin Kings and Nashua Police confirmed that to Laconia. In court yesterday, Nieves denied being a member of any gangs.

After obtaining warrants for his arrest, city police were able to get his phone number and contacted him multiple times on Jan. 2, but Nieves said he wouldn't turn himself in and refused to give them his current location.

He is facing one felony count of second-degree assault, five counts of simple assaults, one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment, and one disorderly conduct violation.

Nashua Police arrested him on Jan. 10 and Laconia Police brought him to the Belknap County House of Corrections.

In arguing for $50,000 cash-bail, City Prosecutor Jim Sawyer said yesterday that Nieves has multiple convictions, including two convictions for robbery, two convictions for second-degree assault, and three convictions for fraudulent use of a credit card.

Arguing for $2,500 cash bail, Nieves' public defender said Nieves allegedly has a job working with Dawson's Concrete that he can keep if he is freed. His attorney added that he had some issues with the truthfulness of the alleged victim because complaints have been made before, but the restraining orders have been dropped by her.

If Nieves posts cash or corporate surety, he said he will agree to a no contact order and live with his sister in Nashua.


Horne to retire from Meredith Selectboard

MEREDITH — Carla Horne, who chairs the Board of Selectmen, announced yesterday that she will not seek re-election to a second term on the board.

"I have absolutely loved serving on the board," Horne said yesterday. "I enjoyed working with my colleagues and especially with the many volunteers on our board and commissions and the town employees."

Horne said her business, Grand View Home Inspections, LLC, requires more of her time and energy and that she is developing a program designed to prepare young people for some of the responsibilities of adulthood. "I've also begun taking piano lessons," she remarked. "I'm taking some time for me."

Horne, who has stood in as the town health officer since the passing of Bill Edney, said that she will continue as deputy health officer.

Horne was elected to a three-year term in 2012 in something of a surprise by topping incumbent Colette Worsman by a margin of 579 to 371.


Firefighters rescue 2 men from Lake Winnisquam

LACONIA — In what Fire Chief Ken Erickson called "an absolutely spectacular job," firefighters rescued a snowmobiler from the waters of Lake Winnisquam on Sunday evening after two machines went through thin ice near the middle of the lake.

Two snowmobilers — Terry Threlfall and Andrew Grant , both of Belmont — drove on to the lake at Ahern Park and traveled south before the ice failed off Shore Drive around 7:30 p.m. Threlfall managed to escape the water and reach the shore where he met residents of 350 Shore Drive, who reported the incident, then returned to the lake to help his companion. When firefighters arrived they could hear the two men calling for help.

Four Laconia firefighters in ice rescue suits and tethered by ropes went on to the ice. They encountered Threlfall and directed him to the operations post some 300 feet from shore where Lt. Jeff Desrosiers was managing the rescue. Firefighters Chris Beadoin and Kevin Pierce could hear but not see Grant, who was in the water shouting. Erickson said that Beaudoin and Pierce broke through thin ice then swam some 200 feet across a stretch open water to reach Grant, who was 1,470 feet from shore. They placed him in a harness, pulled him on to firm ice, put him in a sled and ferried him to land.

Erickson said that Grant had been in the water nearly an hour and keeping himself afloat by clutching his helmet to his torso. He was suffering from hypothermia and while still shaking from cold had stopped shouting and was not coherent when rescued.

Gilford Fire Rescue transported him to Lakes Region General Hospital where a helicopter was prepared to take him to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. However, his condition improved and he remained at LRGH.

"This was one of the most significant ice rescues I've ever been part of," said Erickson. He explained that Beaudoin and Pierce were so far from shore that their flashlights could barely be seen, while several relay points and rescue ropes were required to keep them tethered.

"This is what we train for," he said, "and the training paid off. They did a great job."

The snowmobiles sank in at least 130 feet of water.