LACONIA — Fire Chief Ken Erickson said yesterday that a cigarette end, smoldering in a plastic cup placed close to an exterior wall, caused the fire that damaged all six of the two-story apartments in a multi-family building at Wingate Village on Blueberry Lane yesterday.
Erickson noted that the extreme heat and dryness enabled the fire, which began at the foot of the wall of unit 35, to climb up the exterior wall as the heated vinyl siding emitted flammable vapors and reach into the attics of units 34, 35 and 36, where there was no insulation or sheet rock to slow its spread. He said when the fire reached the oxygen in the attics it reignited, shooting flames through the opening firefighters cut in the roof of unit 36. Firefighters fought the from inside the building, Erickson said, first knocking it down in unit 34 then running hose to extinguish the blaze in units 35 and 36.
Three units — 34,35 and 36, Erickson said suffered the most severe damage while the remaining units in the building — 33, 37 and 38 — were not spared but less affected. He said that 18 people were displaced the night after the fire and anticipated half of them would be able to return to their homes relatively soon, while five adults and four children would likely remain displaced for a longer time. He initially estimated the cost f the damage, including both the structure and possessions, at approximately $150,000, but suggested that figure would likely increase.
On one was home in units 34, 35, and 36 at the time of the fire.
Erickson credited the management of Wingate Village with quickly taking step to address the needs of the displaced tenants and repair the damaged the units. However, the management of Wingate Village declined to comment to The Daily Sun about either the fire or its aftermath.
The fire, Erickson remarked, was the third in recent weeks to have begun with a smoldering cigarette. Earlier less extensive fires were extinguished on High Street and Olive Place.
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