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Update: Fire destroys barn and home at Epsom campground, owner vows to open on time

  • Firefighters douse flames at the Lazy River Campground in Epsom Monday morning. By Geoff Forester/Monitor staff—

  • Firefighters douse flames at the Lazy River Campground in Epsom Monday morning. By Geoff Forester/Monitor staff—

  • Firefighters battle a blaze at Lazy River Campground in Epsom Monday morning. A barn and house at the entrance to the campground were both engulfed in flames. By Jay Heath—

  • Firefighters battle a blaze at Lazy River Campground in Epsom Monday morning. A barn and house at the entrance to the campground were both engulfed in flames. By Jay Heath—

  • Firefighters battle a blaze at Lazy River Campground in Epsom Monday morning. A barn and house at the entrance to the campground were both engulfed in flames. By Jay Heath—

  • Firefighters battle a blaze at Lazy River Campground in Epsom Monday morning. A barn and house at the entrance to the campground were both engulfed in flames. By Jay Heath—

  • An aerial ladder from the Loudon Fire Department throws water on what is left of the barn at the Lazy River Family Campground in Epsom on Monday, April 16, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • A firefighter walks through the smoke at the scene of the fire on the grounds of the Lazy River Family Campground on Monday, April 16, 2018 in Epsom. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Firefighters watch as the aerial ladder from the Loudon Fire Department hoses down the last fire near the chimney at the visitor center of the Lazy River Family Campground in Epsom on Monday, April 16, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • A firefighter pulls up a line hose at the Lazy River Campground in Epsom Monday morning, April 16, 2018. Firefighters from around the region battled the blaze which destroyed the campground’s visitor center. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Ken Smith, owner of Lazy River Campground in Epsom, watch the barn and house burn Monday morning. Photo courtesy Jay Heath


By LOLA DUFFORT
Monday, April 16, 2018

Ken Smith watched helplessly Monday morning in the freezing rain as flames engulfed his home and barn.

The two structures stood at the entrance to the 48-acre Lazy River campground on Goboro Road in Epsom, where the barn served as the recreation center.

“May 15 will be 21 years,” he said, sitting in a gray sedan to get out of the rain as firefighters cleared the still-smoldering scene.

The white-clapboard home Smith and his family lived in remained mostly standing, but was rendered completely uninhabitable. The blaze reduced the barn to blackened rubble. 

“We had three pool tables in there. Air hockey, a bunch of video games. Lots of antiques,” Smith said. The barn also featured regular Saturday-evening dances. 

Smith, who called in the fire at 7:16 a.m., said it started with a woodstove in the home. 

Nobody was injured in the fire, Smith said, and pets were also evacuated in time. 

“Everybody’s safe. That’s the most important thing,” he said. 

And the campground will open as scheduled this summer, Smith added.

“We’ll have a trailer for an office, but we’ll be open,” he said.

The fire quickly spread through the home and leveled the barn amid sleet and sub-freezing temperatures. Firefighters from Epsom and several nearby towns used ladder trucks to quell the flames.

Epsom fire chief R. Stewart Yeaton said the weather and the fire’s location slowed down first responders.

“Weather conditions this morning made the roads treacherous and then we’re in a rural area, we’re getting water from two different sides of the fire,” he said.

Fire crews had to pump water from a pond about 2,000 feet south of fire, Yeaton said, and about 3,200 feet north in the river.

(Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or lduffort@cmonitor.com.)