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Two-alarm fire damages Common Man restaurant in Windham

Union Leader Correspondent

December 28. 2013 6:11PM
Firefighters work the backside of a building fire at the Common Man restaurant in Windham Saturday. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)

WINDHAM — Fire crews from seven towns responded to a two-alarm blaze at the Common Man restaurant Saturday afternoon.

The fire remains under investigation, but Windham Fire officials believe it resulted from an electrical problem, Chief Thomas McPherson said.

Shortly before 2 p.m., the Windham Fire Department received a call from one of the cooks at the restaurant, at 88 Range Road.

"He was preparing for the dinner shift when the kitchen filled with smoke," McPherson said.

Fire crews searched inside the building for about 25 minutes, using thermal imaging cameras.

"We didn't find anything at first," McPherson said.

Using portable fans to clear the smoke, firefighters found hidden pockets of fire in the structure's upstairs ceiling.

McPherson said the building, a restored antique barn, has many nooks and crannies in the attic, which made it hard to reach the fire from inside.

"The fire was tucked above the ceiling, above the sprinklers," McPherson said. "We're dealing with heavy old barn timbers and lots of hidden voids. We ended up having to go in through the roof."

The fire was under control within an hour. No one was injured, and all of the occupants were out of the building by the time firefighters arrived, McPherson said.

McPherson said the building sustained extensive water damage, and a large hole had to be sawed through the roof.

He said the Common Man hoped to reopen for business in the coming days.

Firefighters from Salem, Londonderry, Derry, Hudson, Hampstead and Pelham assisted at the scene, and crews from Londonderry and Nashua provided station coverage for Windham.

A crew from the Salvation Army's Northern New England Division provided water for the firefighters.

This is the second fire at the restaurant within months. In June, an electrical fire left the building with heavy smoke and water damage, though the restaurant reopened that same day.

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