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Two families lose home, possessions in Belmont fire

  • Firefighters fight a blaze in Belmont on Sunday evening; January 20, 2013.<br/>Courtesy photo

    Firefighters fight a blaze in Belmont on Sunday evening; January 20, 2013.
    Courtesy photo

  • Firefighters fight a blaze in Belmont on Sunday morning; January 20, 2013.<br/>Courtesy photo

    Firefighters fight a blaze in Belmont on Sunday morning; January 20, 2013.
    Courtesy photo

  • Firefighters fight a blaze in Belmont on Sunday evening; January 20, 2013.<br/>Courtesy photo
  • Firefighters fight a blaze in Belmont on Sunday morning; January 20, 2013.<br/>Courtesy photo

Two families are displaced after a fire engulfed their Belmont home early Sunday morning. Three residents and one firefighter were taken to the hospital with minor injuries and all have been released.

Firefighters responded to the fire at 544 Province Road just before 2:30 a.m. Sunday and put out the fire by 3:30 a.m., according to a release from Belmont fire Chief David Parenti. The firefighters first put out a fire in the detached garage, which looked salvageable, then mounted an “aggressive attack” on the home, which was already destroyed. People inside the house jumped off the back deck, while others escaped through a basement window, the release said. Firefighters from Gilford, Tilton-Northfield, Gilmanton, Franklin and Alton assisted.

All that was left of the brown house with red shutters was part of one room in the front corner of the house, and charred remains of the rest of the house and deck. The cause of the fire is still under investigation but does not appear to be suspicious, the release said. The adults at the scene told firefighters the children called them about 11 p.m. and said they smelled an odor in the house. When the adults got home, the father checked out the house and did not find any problems but did clean the ashes out of the wood stove, the release said.

The fire was discovered a few hours later, and some of the occupants barely made it out of the house, the police said. Two adults and four children jumped about 10 feet from the back deck, the release said, while two other people staying over at the house escaped through the basement window.

Two families were living in the house: Dave and Charlene Gilbert and their two children, and Charlene’s sister Casey Smith and her two sons. Smith’s sons were not in the home at the time. Her boyfriend and two of the Gilbert childrens’ friends were over, making up the eight people in the home at the time of the fire, said Bobbi Jo Smith, Charlene and Casey’s sister. The family dog was killed in the fire. Both families are currently living with relatives.

Two benefits will be held Saturday for the families. From 3 to 6 p.m., the American Legion Post 33 in Meredith will hold a meat bingo, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the families. It is sponsored by the Ladies Auxiliary of the American Legion, of which Charlene and Casey’s mother is a member. Casey Smith is a member of the American Legion because she is in the Army, Bobbi Jo Smith said.

Heat Restaurant in Laconia will also hold a benefit Saturday night at 8, featuring four bands.

The Red Cross provided assistance to the family for a baby crib, linens, formula and infant supplies for Casey’s 1-year-old son, as well as clothing, storage items, bedding, shoes and food, said spokeswoman Lisa Michaud.

“It’s been overwhelming,” said Kyle Joyce, brother of Charlene and Casey. He came to the house yesterday to see the damage. “We’re very lucky to have friends and family.

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