Belmont/Northfield 'swamp' fire spreads

BELMONT/NORTHFIELD — A five-alarm brush fire that has charred at least 30 acres was threatening homes in the Gardners Grove community last night as crews from as far away as Chichester, Bristol, and Meredith struggled to stop its spread.

According to Tilton-Northfield Fire District Capt. Dave Hall, the fire began in the middle of a huge swathe of swampy wetlands around noon yesterday and spread quickly toward the Northfield Business Park on Rte. 140.

Hall said helicopter crews were helping monitor the spread of the fire from the air while WMUR television reported Gov. Maggie hassan had mobilized four helicopters to assist with this fire as well as one in Ossipee and one in Merrimack.

Rte. 140 was closed to traffic around noon except for people and employees who live on the south-west side of Rte. 140 from Shaker Road in Northfield and Jamestown Road in Belmont. At 6 p.m., Jamestown Road was closed to traffic.

At 4 p.m. the fire went to a fifth alarm that brought fire teams from Concord and other communities in the capitol area. Hall estimated that between 30 and 40 acres of grasslands had burned by that time.

Hall explained that the fire was burning dried grasses that have been exposed to sunlight and wind for about a week.

One Tilton-Northfield call firefighter said he's lived in Northfield his entire life and had never seen the "swamp" burn.

At 6 p.m., and according to the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid transmissions, two tankers were requested from neighboring communities to protect the homes in Gardners Grove on Silver Lake.

At 7:20 p.m., Belmont Fire Chief Dave Parenti confirmed a third command post had been set up at Gardners Grove.

A team from Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid as well as Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) were assisting with water, power drinks, shade and food for the crews — some of whom had been fighting the fire for better than six hours.


CUTLINE: Acres of grassy swamp land burned yesterday in a five-alarm brush fire that brought 19 teams to Northfield and Belmont. Smoldering hot spots can be seen as crews from Meredith prepare to put them out with rakes, shovels, and portable water packs.

CUTLINE: A team of Meredith firefighters get ready to attack a grass fire that had charred about 30 acres in Northfield yesterday afternoon.

DeVoys recuperating after dave donates kidney to wife wendy

SANBORNTON — ''Dave you don't have to do this,'' Wendy DeVoy told her husband as they walked up the steps to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon last week.
The couple had arrived before 6 o'clock in the morning for the long-anticipated kidney transplant surgery, one of the most common transplant operations in the country.

What was unusual was that it was going to be Dave DeVoy who was the kidney donor for his wife, a relatively rare procedure but one which he felt strongly needed to be done.

''I was scared, but I knew I was doing the right thing. I didn't believe there was another option,'' said DeVoy, who last December, after extensive tests, found out that he was a match to be a donor for his wife.

''It's pretty unusual for a husband to be a match. But once I found out that it was possible, the decision was easy to make,'' said DeVoy, a local business owner who is also chairman of the Belknap County Commission.

Wendy said that she had mixed feelings as they went into the hospital. ''I was so happy and grateful that he was going to be the donor , but I was so sad because knew it was causing him pain.''

DeVoy said that he was anxious abut the procedure and was hoping that he would be given medication which would help him relax. As it turned out, he only received that medication five minutes before he went into the operating room, where he placed under anesthesia and one of his kidneys removed.
The kidney was then placed in a cool water saline solution and it was Wendy's turn to be brought into the operating room after a wait of nearly eight hours since she had arrived at the hospital.

''It was nerve-wracking but they kept me in touch with what was happening,'' said Wendy, who received as a transplant a kidney much larger than the one it replaced and who had been on dialysis for eight years prior to the operation.

''We knew eight years ago that a transplant was probably going to be needed,'' says Dave, who said that at one point it was likely that Wendy's sister, who had tested out as a perfect match, would be he donor. But that changed last year and Dave, who had been tested as a possible donor eight years ago and never knew the results decided to have himself tested as a possible donor by Dartmouth-Hitchcock last fall.

Wendy was on home dialysis for four years but as of March last year had been undergoing the procedure at Concord Hospital. She was on a waiting list for a kidney transplant, but Dave said that the wait could have been several years during which her condition and quality of life would deteriorate.
DeVoy said that knowing that kidney donors actually outlive people who aren't kidney donors gave him confidence that there would be no long term impact on his health.

He said that when he woke up in the recovery room after his procedure Wendy was still in the operating room and he didn't get to see her until the next morning, when he was taken by wheelchair to her room, which was one floor up from where he was staying.

He said that when his 14-year-old daughter Maggie came to visit him after the operation he could see tears well up her in eyes because she was upset about the pain her mother was experiencing. But she was relieved to realize that the long ordeal was over and that her mother could lead a normal life once more.

DeVoy said that he was out of the hospital within a few days and his wife a few days later and have been receiving a lot of help from his mother, Evelyn, who lives in Dedham, Mass., and Wendy's mother, Jean Claridge, who lives in Sanbornton.

''We're both recovering and I'm still not at full speed,'' said DeVoy, who said he was pumped full of 25 pounds of fluid before the procedure and has shed most of that weight since coming home,

He owns convenience stores in Gilford and Barnstead, and is also chairman of the Belknap County Commission, which he said in recent months has also been a stressful situation.

Wendy says that her recovery period is expected to be four or five months and that she needs to make frequent follow-up visits to Dartmouth-Hitchcock.
But she is happy that the worst is behind her and is grateful for the support of friends and family since she has returned home.

Ward Resigning as Corrections Chief, Moving to Florida


LACONIA — Belknap County Corrections Department Superintendent Dan Ward has submitted his resignation effective June 19.

''It's more of a retirement than a resignation,'' said Ward, who has held the position for five years and been in law enforcement and corrections for well over 20 years.

He says that his wife, Sheila, has accepted a vocational rehabilitation position with the Florida Department of Education in Tallahassee, Fla., which is located in Florida's panhandle region.

''I'm going there to support Sheila,'' said Ward, whose son D.J., who is entering the ninth grade and is the youngest of his six children, who will also be making the move.

Ward said that he is proud of the work that he has done in Belknap County to refocus corrections on providing treatment for offenders which will help them re-enter the community once their jail terms are completed.

He said that one regret is that he will not be around to see the proposed community corrections facility that he has worked on for many years finally built but sees a growing support for the plan which will help it to be brought to fruition.

Ward said that he is looking ahead to the challenges which he will face in Florida and that one of the possibilities he is likely to explore would be teaching at the college level in the corrections and law enforcement field.

''I'm not retiring to play golf,'' said Ward.