Suspicious Belmont fire

Garage destroyed but home was uninhabited


BELMONT — A suspicious blaze at 30 Corriveau Road that destroyed a two-car garage and nearly took the house with it is being investigated by police and fire officials.

Fire Chief Ken Erickson said firefighters were alerted at 9:41 p.m. Saturday and the on-duty Belmont lieutenant called for reinforcements before he arrived.

Finding the garage completely engulfed in flames, Erickson said they sought additional assistance from Franklin, Gilmanton, Sanbornton, Barnstead and Tilton-Northfield to augment the crews from Belmont, Laconia and Gilford who were already there.

Erickson said the blaze was so intense that about 20 cars had stopped along Route 106 to watch it burn.

He said firefighters were able to knock down the bulk of the fire and spare damage to the main body of the attached house. He said the roof and attic of the house was damaged by flames but there was considered smoke and water damage throughout the rest of the house. He said the house is repairable.

Erickson and Belmont Police Lt. Rich Mann both said the house was unoccupied and had been taken through a foreclosure at least a year ago. Both said it hadn't been lived in for a least a year.

Mann said his officers spoke to the neighbors who said the house was shown regularly by various real estate agents and it is unlikely the home had been being used by squatters.

Erickson said there was electrical service to the house but is not saying whether or not it was turned on.

Anyone with any information or who may have seen something or someone suspicious in the area on Saturday is asked to call the Belmont Police at 267-8351.

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Below, fire rages at 30 Corriveau Road in Belmont Saturday night. The fire drew the attention of dozens of people along Route 106. At top is the home after the fire. No one lived in the home, which had been foreclosed on. (Courtesy photos)

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Gilmanton voters restore Fire Department account at Town Meeting


GILMANTON — Voters restored $5,000 to a part-time salary account for the Gilmanton Fire Department on Saturday during a brisk  deliberative session of Town Meeting, where the warrant otherwise underwent few changes.
"The salary line pays for vacation and sick time as well as two per-diem shifts weekly," Fire Chief Paul Hempel III said Monday, explaining the contested budget request.
During "Super Saturday" on Jan. 7, Budget Committee Chairman Brian Forst made the motion to reduce the part-time wages line by $5,000, to $24,000, according to minutes of the meeting. Stan Bean seconded the motion, and it was approved, the minutes reflected. All told, the Budget Committee reduced the bottom line of the fire department to $631,516, a reduction in the amount of $5,900.
At Saturday's deliberative session, Hempel urged voters to reconsider the reduction to part-time salaries, a plea that prevailed. Other Budget Committee reductions to the fire department budget — $300 to a custodial and housekeeping line item; $400 to office supplies; and $200 to a lease/rental copier line item — remained intact in the town budget.
Hempel said he wasn't present to defend the part-time salaries line during Super Saturday, and because the department hadn't spent all of the funding, the Budget Committee gave it a closer look. But he expressed relief that voters restored the $29,000 part-time salary account as part of the town's operating budget.
"Any of those funds that are requested are necessary," he said.
Article 8, for the proposed town operating budget, requests $3,619,691. If this article fails, a default budget of $3,649,393 will take effect.
Voting for the town and school district will be held on Tuesday, March 14, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., upstairs at the Gilmanton Academy Building. The deliberative session of School District Meeting is Saturday, Feb. 11, at 10 a.m., at the Gilmanton School.

Laconia man nabbed on drug charges in Bedford at highway toll booth

BEDFORD — A Laconia man was among three people who were charged with possession of narcotics with intent to distribute them after being stopped for a lane violation near the toll booth by a New Hampshire state trooper.

A media release said Samuel Lebron, 38, of or formerly of 380 Mile Hill Road, #89, was in a black 2004 Ford Expedition where police found 12 ounces of cocaine, two ounces of heroin and four ounces of crystal methamphetamine.

Also arrested were Arturo Vargas, 39, of New York City, and K.M. Anderson, 27, of New York City.

Lebron is being held on $100,000 cash only bail and is scheduled for a bail hearing in the 9th Circuit Court, Merrimack Division on Tuesday.

According to a records check, Lebron pleaded guilty to a drug charge in Belknap County in 2005 and was convicted of driving after being deemed a habitual offender in 2010.

— Gail Ober