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Two-alarm fire engulfs Concord home, occupants escape unharmed

  • Concord firefighters assess the damage to a School Street home in Concord destoyed by an early morning fire; Friday, April 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

    Concord firefighters assess the damage to a School Street home in Concord destoyed by an early morning fire; Friday, April 5, 2013.

    (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

  • An early morning fire engulfs 72 School Street in Concord; Friday, April 5, 2013.

    An early morning fire engulfs 72 School Street in Concord; Friday, April 5, 2013.

  • Concord firefighters assess the damage to a School Street home in Concord destoyed by an early morning fire; Friday, April 5, 2013.<br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)
  • An early morning fire engulfs 72 School Street in Concord; Friday, April 5, 2013.

An early-morning fire ripped through a two-story home in downtown Concord yesterday, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage but no serious injuries.

The home’s two occupants escaped unharmed. One firefighter sprained an ankle but was treated and released from Concord Hospital.

The fire was reported about 12:30 a.m. at 72 School St., just west of the State House. First responders arrived on the scene within five minutes, said Battalion Chief Ken Folsom.

Fire Chief Dan Andrus said a plastic bucket filled with wood stove ash had been placed on the front porch of the house and had burst into flames shortly after midnight, igniting a propane tank attached to an outdoor grill.

According to Andrus, the property’s owner, John MacIntosh, told emergency officials he had been awakened by the sound of the tank exploding. MacIntosh, who was in his upstairs bedroom in the property’s main brick building, then awoke another occupant who rents an attached unit, and the two escaped. MacIntosh’s two dogs also got out unharmed, Folsom said.

By the time the first fire truck arrived, flames could be seen pulsing through the front porch and up into the second floor, Andrus said.

Off-duty firefighters and crews from seven surrounding towns responded after the fire escalated to two alarms. About 45 firefighters responded in total, Andrus said.

Folsom said first responders punched through the front door of the main building and moved quickly upstairs to open windows and release smoke. Using water and flame retardants, crews were able to bring the fire under control by about 2 a.m.

Folsom praised the crew’s efforts, “especially given a house of this age and with that time of the morning, when there is a delayed response and a delayed call. Really, if you look at it, the whole left side of the building is in pretty good shape.”

From the outside, the building seemed relatively sound yesterday morning, as fire officials walked about surveying the damage. Windows were smashed and one section of roof near the attached rental had collapsed, but the brick facade appeared undamaged.

“It’s going to be uninhabitable for quite a while,” Folsom said. “But as far as structurally, the building looks pretty sound.”

The home is a 3,893-square-foot, three-family Colonial built in 1869. Andrus estimated that repairs, including interior repairs and partial roof replacement, would cost a few hundred thousand dollars. But he said the damage could have been much worse.

“I think that building could have easily been lost with any kinds of delays or missed opportunities,” he said.

“And it likely would have taken some other buildings with it.”

According to tax records, MacIntosh, a lawyer, has lived in the home since 1994. It is assessed at $393,000. MacIntosh did not return a request for comment.

Folsom said accidental fires caused by improper disposal of ashes are fairly common and cautioned that residents with wood stoves should put ashes in metal containers and set them away from any buildings.

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319 or jblackman@cmonitor.com.)

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