Basement fire caused by candle quickly extinguished (185)

NORTHFIELD — A fire in the basement of a home at 48 Union Road was quickly extinguished by firefighters from the Tilton-Northfield and Franklin fire departments Thursday.

The fire was reported at 12:08 a.m. and on arrival companies reported a significant smoke condition from the building. Capt. Sean Valovanie immediately requested a second alarm due to the home's remote location and lack of water supply.
A press release from the fire department said "the crew from Tilton-Northfield Engine 1 made quick entry into the walkout basement of the single-story ranch an initiated an aggressive interior attack. The fire was quickly knocked down and brought under control keeping the fire contained to the basement."
The fire is considered accidental and was caused by an unattended candle.
There were no working smoke detectors in the home.

"The occupants were really fortunate they were able to get out of the home safely at this hour with no smoke alarms," said Deputy Fire Chief Mike Robinson. "It is imperative that homes have working smoke alarms and candles are not left unattended" said Robinson.
The incident was declared under control at 1:03 a.m.
There were no firefighter injuries. An occupant of the home was treated and released on scene for minor burns received while attempting to extinguish the fire.

Tempers flare over possible road closure in Gilford

By Gail Ober

GILFORD – After a discussion that began with a bang and ended in a whimper, selectmen agreed Wednesday night  to ask voters at next week's deliberative session to consider "studying" and not "discontinuing" Wood Road.

Because the words "to discontinue" are already on the warrant and it is too late for the town to remove it entirely, it can be changed by the body before it goes on the March 8 ballot.

Wood Road is a small road off Bickford Road which is off Cherry Valley Road on the Alton side of Gunstock. There is one house at the end of it owned by Mark and Nancy Watson whose primary residence is in Groton.

The Watsons met with selectmen last night and first spoke through their attorney, who subtly threatened them with a lawsuit when he said board members should reconsider their recommendation to discontinue the road or face the possibility of costly legal bills and lengthy litigation.

Tensions escalated when Mark Watson told them they had purchased the house with the knowledge it was on a public road and were concerned about not being notified by mail about the possibility the road would be closed. Town Administrator Scott Dunn said the process was duly noticed in the newspapers and the board visited all of the properties.

Watson threatened the board with the possibility of claims for diminished property value, the loss of a pending sale, and decreased emergency services.

The idea of closing Wood Road began in spring of 2015 when Public Works Director Peter Nourse suggested discontinuing five roads that appeared to be personal driveways that he felt the town shouldn't be maintaining. Selectmen examined all of them and determined that Wood Road was a driveway and recommended a warrant article to discontinue it as a Class V Road, which is the only way a town can discontinue a road.

According to one official, the town only heard from the Watsons on the day of Wednesday's night's selectman's meeting and not during the process that began seven months ago.

Watson told the board that the lower portion of Wood Road is used as an access to trail head parking for Belknap Mountain, a statement that was later confirmed by Bill Carpenter, the administrator land management within the N.H. Division of Forestry.

Watson also said that people park on Wood Road, especially during prime hiking season, and in some instances cars are parked all of the way down to Bickford Road. He said it's not unusual for people to park in his actual driveway.
He was also concerned about his personal liability for injuries to hikers if the road were no longer town-owned to which Dunn said he couldn't answer because he couldn't give legal advice.

Tensions eased when Nancy Watson told the board she really didn't want the town maintaining the driveway portion of the road and would be quite satisfied if they used the left access road to the trail head parking area as the turnaround for the snow plow. She said they already maintain the driveway portion.

It was at this point the board agreed to amend the warrant from the floor at the deliberative session.

Public Works Operations Manager Mia Gagliardi said yesterday that starting now, the town will only be plowing Wood Road to the turnoff for the trail head.

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Vintage power - Fay adds to his collection of locally built McDuff marine engines



GILFORD — Jeff Fay of Fay's Boat Yard has added to his collection of historic locally built McDuff engines by acquiring what he says is the oldest one he's seen so far.
The five-horsepower, two-cycle engine has a brass nameplate with the number 427, which Fay says indicates that it was built in the 1905-1910 time period at the McDuff Machine Company, which was doing business on Gold Street in Lakeport where Lakeport Landing is currently located.
He said the engine at one time powered a boat on Squam Lake and had been owned for years by the late Louie Francesco of Holderness, who was well known for operating the 1897 steam boat Halcyon on Squam Lake and had a boat shop on Shepard Hill. Fay acquired the engine and several other old engines in a swap with Francesco's son, Peter.
"It was probably used to power a Laker style boat. Louie's son knew I wanted it, so we were able to work out a deal," says Fay, who now has 20 of the McDuff engines.
Growing up around boats and marine engines, Fay, who is the third generation of his family to run Fay's Boat Yard, has always been fascinated by the McDuff engines and started collecting them around 25 years ago.
He said that his dad, Merrill, encouraged him in his collecting and shared much of the family's historical ties to McDuff with him.
"When McDuff was building the engines, my grandfather, Wilbur Fay, worked as an apprentice for him.That was around 1918 when he was only 14 years old. He used to come down from North Street, where he lived, and hang around there, pick up his tools and learn about the engines,'' said Fay, who has written a short history of McDuff and his manufacturing company for the Old Marine Engine website.
Fay said that William J. McDuff was 32 years old when her purchased the block of land at 83 Gold St. from Edwin L. Cram on Aug. 3, 1902, and founded the McDuff Machine Company, and started producing his unique engines.
His shop was located next door to Johnson Boat Builders, which turned out graceful Johnson Lakers, 22 to 28 feet long and only 4 or 5 feet wide, which were powered with McDuff Motors. Fay says that many of the surviving Lakers still have the brass intake screens attached to the hulls, although most have been repowered over the years.
McDuff's water-cooled two-cycle engines ranged in size from single-cylinder five-horsepower models, like one known as the "Bumble Bee" because of its black color and brass fittings, up to four-cylinder 70-horsepower engines capable of powering large launches and speed boats.
They were used in a variety of ways other than powering boats, including as stationary motors on farms, in sawmills and in ice houses to power winches and other machinery.
He said McDuff was a mechanical genius and inventor whose legacy should be better known than it is, pointing to a unique reversing propeller, known as ''The McDuff Reversing Wheel,'' which could be controlled by the boat operator from inside the boat. There was no transmission and a lever was used instead to change the pitch of the propeller to select several forward speeds, as well as a neutral and reverse.
"'When you think of all that it takes to make an engine, from casting it, then machining it and then making it run, you'll appreciate what McDuff was able to do,'' said Fay, noting that McDuff also invented a mechanical ''come-along'' device which could be used with chains which were pulled a link at a time through it.
Fay is restoring the engine he recently acquired and will mount it on a stand, and said it will be one of three or four of his engines which will be on display this coming summer at the New Hampshire Boat Museum in Wolfeboro.

Jeff Fay of Fay’s Boat Yard has found a McDuff engine which was built in Lakeport in the 1905-1910 time period. It is the oldest of the 20 McDuff engines in his collection. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)
Jeff Fay of Fay's Boat Yard has found a McDuff engine which was built in Lakeport in the 1905-1910 time period. It is the oldest of the 20 McDuff engines in his collection. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

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