LACONIA — A rapid, efficient response by Laconia firefighters, assisted by crews from Gilford, Belmont, Tilton-Northfield, Meredith ,Sanbornton and Franklin, limited damage to a multi-family residence at 121 Messer Street, next door to Uniformly Yours, from a fire that started in the basement at about 3 p.m. and quickly climbed through the walls to all three upper stories. Firefighters had the scene under control in about 45 minutes.
Deputy Fire Chief Kirk Beattie said that Lieutenant Jay Ellingson and his crew from Central Station arrived to find fire in the basement and smoke on the upper floors. They quelled the fire in the basement, which apparently arose from the electrical panel. Told there were people inside, firefighters entered the building to find fire rising in the space between the exterior and interior walls characteristic of balloon framing. Beattie said there was fire in the walls, floors and ceilings on all three floors. Crews from several departments worked throughout the building, stripping the walls to find the fire and extinguish it. Two firefighters atop the aerial on Ladder One cut the roof, but as the fire below was contained found no need to open it.
Beattie credited the prompt arrival of companies from Laconia, including nine off-duty firefighters completing a paramedic class, Gilford and Belmont with preventing the fire from spreading further.
There are five units in the building, two on the ground floor and first and one on the third floor, with some eight adult residents, none of whom were injured. Most occupants found alternative housing, but the Red Cross and Laconia Police were seeking homes for two adults. Firefighters removed a caged ferret from the building, but a resident said that the whereabouts of a second ferret were unknown.
Beattie estimated the value of the damage to the building at approximately $50,000 and placed an equal value on the contents lost or damaged in the fire. The cause of of the fire remains under investigation.
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