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July 18. 2013 12:42AM

Fire damages Bedford office building


Firefighters walk by the front of an Bedford office condominium damaged in a Wednesday afternoon fire. mark hayward/union leader 

BEDFORD — A late afternoon fire severely damaged the interior of a Bedford office building Wednesday afternoon, drawing more firefighters than usual as excessive heat and humidity sapped their normal firefighting abilities.

While the blaze at the Pine Tree Place office building was quickly extinguished, firefighters from Bedford and surrounding towns worked in shifts of 20 to 30 minutes to complete extensive overhaul, which involved tearing apart walls to reach any trace of flame.

“The guys who are coming out of the building are exhausted,” said Deputy Fire Chief Mark Klose. The department ran an on-site cooling station, where firefighters guzzled bottled water and doused their heads with a fire hose.

The fire badly damaged Powerhouse Consulting, located at building No. 6 of the office complex, located at the corner of Route 101 and Jenkins Road. Firefighters said the front room was the most charred, but smoke damage was significant throughout the building.

More than an hour after the 5:05 p.m. initial fire call, smoke was still drifting from rooftop vents.

Deb Gefteas, the company vice president, said three people were in the building when the fire hit.

“We don’t know (what happened)” she said. “The power went out and we heard some type of boom almost simultaneously.”

The firm provides consulting in the call center and telecommunications fields.

“This is our livelihood, this is our building,” she said while sitting on the step of an adjoining building. “We’re heartbroken, frankly.”

Klose said it will likely take several days for Bedford Fire Prevention and Bedford police to investigate the cause of the fire. He said there was some kind of issue with the underground electrical lines running to the building.

The building became energized, a fire started in the cellar and moved to the first floor, he said. It extended into the attic.The 1½-story office buildings at Pine Tree Place look more like residential homes, neat Colonials with gabled roofs and treed yards. The building had little outside damage, other than missing siding where the electrical box used to be, and a few broken windows and ripped out insulation in the yard.Public Service of New Hampshire cut off power to the entire complex and won’t restore it until the utility has isolated the issue and checked all buildings in the complex.
mhayward@unionleader.com


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