Overnight fire destroys Dunkin Donuts on Route 3 in Tilton

Monitor staff
Last modified: 1/28/2016 3:17:08 AM
During rush-hour traffic Wednesday morning in Tilton, cars slowed at the entrance of Dunkin’ Donuts, but they weren’t turning in for coffee and baked goods.

Drivers hit the brakes to stare at the water-soaked and burnt remains of the fast food restaurant.

The Dunkin’ Donuts chain store along Route 3 was deemed a complete loss following a fire in the early hours of Wednesday. Tilton/Northfield Fire and EMS Department Capt. Tim Joubert said his crew was activated at 2:49 a.m., and they arrived to find smoke coming from the building’s roof.

The Franklin Fire Department was at the scene too, and firefighters went inside the building and discovered the fire was in the ceiling. Joubert said the situation became dangerous when they saw the roof was constructed with trusses.

“If one fails, they all fail,” he said.

Firefighters quickly got out of the building, and then, said Joubert, “we had the roof collapse in the Dunkin’ Donuts area.” A second alarm was sounded, and departments from Laconia, Gilford, Belmont, Concord and Sanbornton arrived to help. Crews from New Hampton and Gilmanton manned the Tilton/Northfield station, and police and Department of Transportation workers were on scene to direct traffic.

Joubert said it took them about an hour and a half to get the fire under control, in time to allow morning traffic to flow normally – except for a few turned heads.

“We definitely averted that crisis,” said Joubert. “This is a major traffic hub.”

None of the business’s 25 employees were in the building at the time of the fire, though some had started to show up for work as fire crews worked to douse to flames, said Joubert. The other two suites in the building – a vacant pizza shop and an office space – had no one inside, either.

Both the property owner, Skip Sagris of Bow, and the store owner, Nick Rathosis, were grateful for that.

“I’m devastated,” said Rathosis, who has owned the restaurant for 28 years. “It’s seeing a dream falling apart.”

Looking at the destroyed restaurant just after 9 a.m. Wednesday, he added, “Thank God nobody was in there. People aren’t replaceable.”

Sagris, who stood next to the dilapidated Dunkin’ Donuts roof sign now sitting on the ground, said, “No one was hurt, it was only a building.”

Just beyond him, blown out windows showed the morning’s brilliant blue sky, and charred debris was scattered across the parking lot. Sagris guessed it was about a $750,000 loss.

Sagris constructed the property himself 28 years ago and has plans to rebuild as soon as possible. With permission from fire officials, he’ll demolish the remains and put a new building there, a process he guessed would take about three months.

Before that though, firefighters will work to determine a cause. The state fire marshal was on scene Wednesday morning.

“No leads,” said Joubert. “With a building like this and the amount of damage that’s done, it’s difficult to determine a cause. We’re going to poke around some more.”


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