Early morning fire destroys garage next to secluded home in Gilford

GILFORD — The residents of a home at 357 Lake Shore Road are safe after they were able to leave their home during a house fire early Thursday morning.

Captain Rick Andrews said a woman in the home was awakened at 1:39 a.m. but what she described as "popping" sounds. When she went to investigation, she saw that the garage, which is attached to the home by a breezeway, was on fire.

Andrews said she was able to wake everyone in the home and get them outside and in one place after notifying 911. He said she told them that as she and her family were leaving the home, the smoke detectors in the residence were starting to sound.

Andrews said the home is at the end of a long driveway so the first responding truck laid a 4-inch hose and Gilford's tanker truck plus other responding trucks from Laconia, Belmont and Meredith were able to provide a steady stream of water.

He said that when the first firefighters arrived the two car garage, which had lawn equipment and other things but no cars in it, was fully engulfed in flames. He said the first responders concentrated getting water on to the breezeway and the house to stop the spread of the fire.

Andrews said the garage and its contents were destroyed and there was some structural damage to the breezeway. He said there was smoke and water damage to the home but said it is repairable.

Andrews also said that there was sheet rock between the garage and the breezeway and the door between them was closed and this slowed the spread of the blaze.

He said members of the N.H. State Fire Marshal investigated the scene yesterday and though they haven't determined the exact cause, they say it is not suspicious.

The family is staying with other family members.

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Police say man in wheelchair was in crosswalk when struck & killed on South Main, investigation continues

LACONIA — City police said the man who was struck and killed by a motorist while crossing South Main Street in a wheel chair on June 7 was in a marked crosswalk when he was struck.

No charges have been filed related to the accident but police say their investigation continues.

John Giuffrida, 82, whose address was not provided by police, was struck around 2:45 p.m. by a Belmont resident Claire Haynes, 65, who was driving a gray Dodge Caravan.

June DeHart, a Belmont woman who heard the crash, said she was leaving Vista Foods when she noticed Giuffrida (who she didn't know) in his wheelchair, trying to cross from Vista to the opposite side of the street.

"I don't know what it was but something told me to watch this man," she said. "He went on to the cross walk."

The woman said she heard the crash and went to the street, got out of her car, and saw Giuffrida lying in the road. She noted that some white liquid, possibly milk, had splashed onto to the Caravan.

Giuffrida later died of his injuries.

Police said yesterday that his death is still under active investigation by the Belknap Regional Accident Investigation Team that is led by a Laconia Police sergeant and is comprised of accident reconstruction specialists from all over Belknap County.

A Laconia police supervisor said that these investigations are time consuming, require an extensive number of interviews and forensic testing and, unfortunately, it can take time to make a final determination.

Other recent pedestrian-auto accidents bears this out.

In the case of the death of Lilyanna Johnson, two accident reconstruction teams plus multiple interviews were some of the tools used by police to recreate the accident and determine what happened — a process that took several months and thousands of employee hours. Ultimately, the driver of the car, Amy Lafond, pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and is serving a prison sentence at the N.H. State Prison for Women.

In a similar case in Franklin, local police working with a reconstruction unit from the N.H. State Police took slightly more than a year to investigate the case of a woman who was struck and killed by a car while in a crosswalk on Central Street. After a trial in Merrimack County Superior Court, Lynn Dion of Franklin was convicted of negligent homicide.

Dion's conviction was upheld by the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

Under New Hampshire law, a driver must "yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk." RSA 265:35 (2004).

Since Giuffrida's death, the city has placed a yellow sign designating the cross walk in front of Vista Foods.

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Bristol gun shop burglars caught on video, 4 arrested

BRISTOL — Three days after Newfound Sales on Lake Street was burglarized, police on Tuesday arrested three local men and one teenager and charged them.

Dahlton Fairbank, 18, of Bristol was charged with one count of receiving stolen property (a firearm) and transporting drugs in a motor vehicle; Damian Marinelli, 18, of Bristol was charged with once count of receiving stolen property (a firearm); and Roland Mills, 40, of Bristol was charged with one count of burglary.

A 15-year-old from Alexandria faces one count of burglary, one count of receiving stolen property, and one count of giving a false statement to police.

According to Newfound Sales owner Lester Greenwood, at least one of the four broke into his store at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. He said they crashed through the front door and broke the glass to the gun case.

He said 12 handguns were stolen along with some cash in the cash register. Greenwood said police have recovered most of the guns.

"That's all I care about," said Greenwood, adding that he's sleeps better at night knowing they're all in jail.

Greenwood said this isn't the first time his shop has been the target of burglars. He said in 2006 two people broke into his store and stole nine handguns. In the interim, he said not only are the two people who broke into his store in jail, but eight others who were involved in some way are also incarcerated.

"You know, the stupidest thing you can ever do is rob a gun shop," said Greenwood.

"No smart burglar will steal a gun. That graduates you to the big time," he said.

Greenwood said his store has nearly every kind of alarm and surveillance possible and in this case he said "he could see the infrared light bounce off the bald head of guy who did it."

He estimated they were in his store for about 90 seconds and knew exactly what they were looking for.

When asked if he knew any of the people who have been arrested he said he thinks he knows the teenager and hopes that they try him as an adult. One of Greenwood's employees said the youth had been in trouble a year ago and, at 15, he should know better.

Police Chief Michael Lewis said investigation into the burglary is still active and said there likely could be additional arrests.

He said that while executing the search warrants, police recovered goods that had been reported stolen in three unrelated house burglaries and the burglary of Shackett's Supermarket.

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Friday evening fire strikes Hospital Hill home

LACONIA — Fire severely damaged a small, single-story home, the last on the north side of Taylor Street where the pavement ends, around 6 p.m. yesterday.

Originally the fire was reported on Girard Street, then Stephen Street, one block to the north of the actual blaze, which left firefighters scrambling to locate it. An engine from Gilford drove to the end of Stephen Street, where flame could be seen from the back of the burning building on the adjacent street. Gilford firefighters ran hose and threw water on the fire. Although the fire was brought under control, it continued to smolder and flare as firefighters stripped walls and ceilings.

Fire Chief Ken Erickson said that while the fire appeared most intense at the back of the house it spread throughout much of the small building. The outside of the house above the front door was blackened and firefighters removed the windows on either side of the front door.

Crews from Gilford, Belmont and Tilton-Northfield assisted at the scene, relieving those working with breathing apparatus in intense heat.

Deputy Chief Kirk Beattie said that the where and how the fire started has not been determined, but Deputy Chief Charles Roffo and the State Fire Marshall will be investigating the source of the blaze.

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