Sanbornton fire chief on firecrackers in his mailbox: ‘Very disrespectful to me and my family’


Monitor staff

Published: 05-22-2023 4:48 PM

Sanbornton Fire Chief Paul Dexter was proud that he had built a strong mailbox to replace the weather-beaten one that his children had given him eight years ago on Father’s Day.

But he’s certainly not happy that someone placed firecrackers in his mailbox Sunday night and lit the fuses. The metal box and truck survived the blast, but now Dexter wonders if his house was targeted for a specific reason, or if the crime was random.

He’s got a wife and two dogs at home.

“I have no idea,” said Dexter, referring to the issue of targeted or random. “Very troubling that someone would do this. Very disrespectful to me and my family.”

Sanbornton Police Chief Steve Hankard was not available for comment Monday. Dexter said an official police investigation is underway, but he’s not confident a person or people will face justice.

“Investigators were checking with fireworks places,” Dexter said. “But I just think that there’s no way to trace this. We’ll get information from the police and we’ll use social media.”

The Dexter mailbox has a history. Eight years ago, on Father’s Day, the Dexter’s children gave him a mailbox with a fire truck on it.

The truck stood proudly through the harsh New England winters, until the weather-worn damage had taken its toll and Dexter was forced to retire what had always been of great sentimental value.

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He built his own mailbox, finishing last month, from the kit his wife had given him. He wrapped wood around the metal mailbox for protection and again displayed a fire truck.

Then, on Monday morning, while nearing the street at the end of his 800-foot-long driveway, Dexter noticed debris scattered below the box and the door open.

“I had picked up the mail on Saturday, so I knew it wasn’t mail,” Dexter said.

The fireworks blew the mailbox door open. The truck and mailbox survived the Sunday’s blast. The mailbox was charred on the inside and filled with cylindrical pieces of paper, leftovers from the blast.

“They said they believe someone used fireworks to ignite the mailbox,” Dexter said, “which officials warned was considered arson.”

And while making an arrest in the case will be difficult, Dexter said he won’t forget what happened.

“I am hell bent on finding who did this,” the chief said.