Man dies in Raymond house fire, police officer injured
By Jason Schreiber Union Leader Correspondent
Fire officials are investigating after a man was killed in a fire at this mobile home on Regina Avenue in Raymond early Saturday morning. (Jason Schreiber/Union Leader)
RAYMOND - State and local fire officials are investigating the cause of a two-alarm blaze that killed a man and sent a police officer to the hospital after he was overcome by smoke early this morning.
The fire was reported just before 1:30 a.m. after neighbors saw smoke pouring from a mobile home at 37 Regina Ave.
Fire Chief Kevin Pratt said a police officer who tried to help rescue the victim started to make his way through a side door but the smoke became too much.
Pratt said the officer was sent to Exeter Hospital to be checked out for smoke inhalation but was released and later returned.
"The fire was through the whole house and underneath it," Pratt said.
The victim, who lived alone, was found deceased inside a bathroom after the fire was put out, Pratt said. Neighbor Les Oliver said his son spotted the smoke when he came home from work. They quickly called 911 and then raced over to try to rescue the man inside.
Oliver said he used a large flashlight to bang on the doors.
"I beat on his house to try to wake him up and I woke the neighbors up. We tried to get him out, but we couldn't open the door because the smoke was too thick," he said.
Another neighbor came over to help when he heard Oliver.
"When the officer showed up we tried to kick in the door. There were five of us trying to go through the door," Oliver said.
Deputy State Fire Marshal Max Schultz said clutter inside the home also made it difficult for rescuers to try to enter the building.
"There was a lot of stuff inside the house. When they tried to make entry they couldn't even get two of the doors open because there was so much stuff on the floor. The door that the individual normally uses, even when you go in there there was a lot of stuff. It made it very, very difficult to gain entry or egress if you're trying to escape. One of the things we'll be looking at is why was the person not able to escape? Was the egress blocked. Did he have smoke detectors?" Schultz said.
Nearly 40 firefighters responded to the fire from Raymond, Deerfield, Epping and Fremont. Firefighters brought the fire under control within about 40 minutes, Pratt said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the state fire marshal's office and the Raymond police and fire departments.
Fire officials said the fire is not considered suspicious.
"We have no evidence that there was a criminal aspect to it," Schultz said.
Schultz said an autopsy will be performed on the victim, whose name has not been released. He said police were still attempting to notify family members this morning.
Neighbors said the victim has lived at the house for about eight or nine years, but kept to himself.
Pratt said this is the first fatal fire in town since the 1980s when a 5-year-old boy died in a blaze.