By BEA LEWIS, for The Laconia Daily Sun
MEREDITH — A local police officer is being credited with averting a tragedy when he spotted smoke coming from a house Thursday morning and stopped to investigate.
"The smoke was just hanging low around the house. It didn't look right," said Officer Phil McLaughlin who went to the door of the 41 Barnard Ridge Road home and awakened the sleeping residents who escaped unharmed with their two dogs. The couple were asleep in the finished basement and were unaware the first floor was filled with smoke.
First Deputy Fire Chief Andre Kloetz said had another ten minutes elapsed a fire would have broken out.
"These guys consistently amaze me what they see when they are on patrol," Kloetz said, crediting Officer McLaughlin for being sharp-eyed and quickly sounding the alarm.
Dave Sticht who owns the ranch style home occupied by his daughter, Amanda Wilson, said she has been renovating the two bedrooms and had moved the contents into the attached garage. Some of her friends had been helping with the project.
Someone working in the garage had apparently started a fire in a wood stove that is vented through a back wall. Fire officials said there was sufficient heat to melt the vinyl siding near the stove pipe that was vented directly beneath the soffit in the eves.
Sticht recounted that his other daughter, Cassi, whose partner is a firefighter in a neighboring community and has a scanner in their home, phoned to tell him that a first-alarm structure fire had just been reported at Amanda's home.
Firefighters disconnected the wood stove and carried it into the front yard, where it continued to billow smoke. High powered fans were set up to help clear the smoke from the house which according to property tax records was built in 1955.
Town Manager Phil Warren said at the scene that the incident spotlighted one of the many benefits of community policing.
The occupants of 41 Barnard Ridge Road in Meredith, comfort their two dogs after they were able to escape from the smoke-filled home after being awakened by a police officer on routine patrol who spotted smoke and stopped to investigate. (Bea Lewis/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
A wood stove sits in the front yard at 41 Barnard Ridge Road in Meredith, after it was pulled from the attached garage of the home. Heat from the stove pipe melted the siding where it was vented and filled the building with smoke while two occupants were asleep inside. (Bea Lewis/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
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