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The charred remains of a house, garage and trucks destroyed by fire continue to smolder after this morning blaze at 9 Sweet Hill Road in Plaistow (Jason Schreiber)

Man suffers serious burns in Plaistow house fire

PLAISTOW - A man suffered serious burns to his hands and feet after a two-alarm fire destroyed his home early this morning.

Fire Chief John McArdle said William C. Bartlett escaped his burning home at 9 Sweet Hill Road by climbing out a window, but because of his burns, he was flown by medical helicopter to Massachusetts General Hospital for treatment.

The fire was reported around 2:45 a.m. The first police officer on the scene arrived within about three minutes and discovered the two-story colonial house engulfed in flames.

Nearly 30 firefighters from several area departments responded to the blaze, which was brought under control within an hour.

The fire leveled the house, a garage, and destroyed two trucks parked at the residence. A shed behind the house was also damaged.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. McArdle said some neighbors reported hearing "loud booms." He said the residence did have natural gas fed into the house, but he wasn't sure if that was a factor.

"We'll have to piece that together to figure out what that could be," he said.
The state fire marshal's office was contacted, but McArdle said he doesn't believe the fire is suspicious.

Next-door neighbor Laurie Houlihan and her husband were awakened by what sounded like "a loud yelp."

They looked outside and saw the fire beginning to spread at Bartlett?s house.

"It seemed to go fast. It was a huge fire," she said.

She said Bartlett moved into the residence last year. His parents also recently moved into a new house nearby.

Another neighbor, Anita Libby, said she heard popping sounds at the time of the fire.

"By the time we came outside it was in flames," she said.

The extent of Bartlett's burns wasn't known.

"Burns are difficult. You don't know how it's going to affect your system. You have a chance for infection and we wanted to get him to Boston where they have better capabilities," McArdle said.

Bartlett lives alone at the house with his dog. McArdle said the dog was taken to an animal hospital in Brentwood for treatment.

Plaistow firefighters were assisted by fire crews from Atkinson, Brentwood, Danville, Kingston, Hampstead, Newton, Sandown and Haverhill, Mass.

Most of the firefighters left by 6 p.m. with a few Plaistow firefighters remaining at the scene to keep an eye on the smoldering rubble.

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