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Fast-moving fire destroys home in Boscawen

  • The remains of the garage and house after a fire Tuesday night at 196 King St. in Boscawen on Wednesday, June 11, 2014.<br/>(GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff)

    The remains of the garage and house after a fire Tuesday night at 196 King St. in Boscawen on Wednesday, June 11, 2014.
    (GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff)

  • The remains of the garage and house after a fire Tuesday night at 196 King St. in Boscawen on Wednesday, June 11, 2014.<br/>(GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff)

A garage fire quickly spread to the rest of a Boscawen home Tuesday night, forcing a mother and her two young boys to run for their lives before strangers broke down a door and saved one of two cats and a pet lizard.

No one was hurt in the two-alarm fire, which drew firefighters from six departments, took an hour and a half to bring under control and left the house a charred mess.

One firefighter was brought to Concord Hospital after suffering dehydration, Boscawen fire Chief Ray Fisher said. Fisher added that the cause of the fire that destroyed the home may never be determined.

The fire began about 5 p.m. at 169 King St., at a single-story house rented by John Masse, a lieutenant at the state prison, and his wife, Lisa Masse, an emergency medical technician. They have two children, A.J., 13, and Eric, 12.

They’re currently staying at a friend’s rental property on Webster Lake.

John Masse was working when he said his wife and children smelled smoke. “It’s not uncommon,” said Masse, who relayed the story he’d heard from Lisa Masse. “Neighbors on both sides of our house have woodstoves, so it was not a big deal, and we had all the windows open.”

Soon, though, the family heard popping sounds, so A.J. looked out the front window and saw flames.

“It wasn’t even smoking; it was burning,” Masse said. “The fire had shot through there and was almost ready to come into the kitchen. They barely had time to get out of the house.”

Masse said his family bolted outside – neither of the boys had shoes on – and managed to bring their two dogs with them, while the two cats remained inside.

Then, in an odd coincidence, Bret Richardson of Boscawen, who also works at the state prison but had never met Masse, happened to be driving by the burning home, on his way to pick up his wife in Concord.

“I saw smoke and people running across the street,” said Richardson, an officer in the secure psychiatric unit. “I saw the flames and pulled over and ran up the driveway, along with a few others. I heard the woman screaming and was told everyone had gotten out, but the pets were still in there.”

Richardson said he broke down the front door and was followed inside by two people he didn’t know. The heat was intense by then, he said, but the flames hadn’t reached the main part of the house.

He found one of the cats, scooped it up and ran outside, saying yesterday he was surprised that the cat “walked right up to me.” Someone else saved the lizard, living in a tank, Richardson said.

Richardson said he tried to re-enter the house to look for the other cat, but the flames had moved into the front part of the house by then.

Neighbors Tanya and John Currier, who had heard crackling sounds before spotting the flames, cared for the Masses’ two boys at their house, giving them drinks, snacks and clothing. The couple also kept the dogs in their fenced-in backyard, feeding them as well.

“We cared for them and comforted them while things were chaotic with the fire,” said Tanya Currier, a VA nurse.

The fire was out by 6:30 p.m., Fisher said. A second alarm was needed for manpower, “not so much for equipment,” Fisher said. “We needed them because it was so hot, a hot day and a lot of heat, and it doesn’t take long for these guys to get pretty bushed.”

The house, surrounded by a smoky smell that won’t leave anytime soon, is set back from King Street, behind trees at the end of a long driveway.

The fire’s origin is obvious, with the two-car garage totally leveled, replaced by fire-scarred wood everywhere. A station wagon sat nearby, its hood open, its engine partially melted.

Inside the house, the floors were squishy from water damage and covered with fiberglass insulation and blackened furniture, some of which was upside down.

A Lego helicopter and landing pad sat on the front cement step, undamaged, but other birthday presents for the boys, items such as airsoft guns and an Xbox 360, were nowhere to be found.

Tucked into the door frame was a yellow piece of paper that said, “Are you missing a cat? Please call me.”

The note, written by Sandy Michaud of nearby Queen Street, included her home phone. Contacted yesterday, Michaud, a retired real estate agent, said she knew the Masse family had lost a cat.

“I heard a cat crying outside last night,” Michaud said yesterday. “I opened the door and it came right into the house. A young cat, black and white, friendly with my dog.”

“That’s not our cat,” Masse said later. “Ours was big and not real friendly. Thank you, though.”

To donate money to help the Masse family, go to gofundme.com and search for “Masse.”

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or rduckler@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @rayduckler.)

Legacy Comments1

There is more than one Masse family listed. The correct one is at http://www.gofundme (dot) com/a6oj10

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