Gratitude for a disaster averted

Monitor columnist
Published: 7/15/2021 1:43:36 PM

A thank you to Epsom and Pembroke firefighters and police from Mark White, an Allenstown native who recently retired as an air traffic controller and moved back to the area from Texas.

White’s house filled with smoke recently, caused by a pot filled with cooking oil that was accidentally left on the burner. No major damage occurred, thanks to rescue personnel.

White posted his gratitude on Facebook: “My wife and I want to thank the wonderful people from the Epsom Police and Fire Department and the unit from Pembroke fire for their quick response and resolution to a smoke-filled incident in our home this morning. The chief found the problem quickly and kept what was a bad situation from turning into a very bad one.”

But that’s only half the story. The other half is the appreciation for White’s appreciation, with Facebook responses rolling out like a red carpet. About a dozen in all were posted, and, miraculously, none were negative. Said one Facebook message, “Lived in Epsom most of my life. So many great people here. Welcome to Epsom and hope you enjoy it.” Said another, “So glad everything turned out well. Epsom is blessed with professional and caring first responders. Welcome to our town. Thank you Epsom Police and Fire and Rescue.”

Reached by phone this week, White said his wife accidentally turned on the conduction stove, which only heats up if a pot or pan sits on top of one of the circular heaters. In this case, a pot was there, with cooking oil in it and a top on it.

“The smoke kind of caught me by surprise,” White told me. “I was napping in the living room and the smell of smoke woke me up. I turned around and the whole main floor of the house was filled with smoke. The main thing was finding my wife and getting out of the house.”

He said rescue personnel arrived within four minutes. One responder was Lt. Joel French of the Epsom Fire Department. He said the pot’s covering might have prevented something worse.

“As soon as the oil was dumped out, it flashed up from the heat that built up inside,” French explained. “If it had not been covered, you would have had a fully involved pan.”

White said this was a strange way to re-familiarize himself with his hometown.

“I was surprised by that reaction that there were so many welcoming people,” White told me. “But it’s not the way I wanted to be welcomed, and it’s not the way I wanted to meet the fire department.”

Ray Duckler bio photo

Ray Duckler, our intrepid columnist, focuses on the Suncook Valley. He floats from topic to topic, searching for the humor or sadness or humanity in each subject. A native New Yorker, he loves the Yankees and Giants. The Red Sox and Patriots? Not so much.

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