Epsom woman rescued as house burns; husband hurt
EPSOM — Epsom firefighters rescued a woman from a second-floor porch and transported her husband to Concord Hospital after a two-alarm fire started by an errant cigarette Wednesday morning.
Epsom Fire Chief Stewart Yeaton said the husband, Richard Clark, was smoking the cigarette that started the blaze on the second floor.
“All of a sudden I heard my husband yelling, ‘Get out, get out,’ I saw the flames and so I ran out onto the porch to get outside, and I just froze. I freaked out, I just couldn’t jump,” Diane Clark said.
Clark said her husband suffered minor injuries, and she said firefighters had to use the ladder to get her down. The family dog also escaped the blaze.
“I have never experienced anything like that before, and I hope I never do again for as long as I live,” Clark said.
Yeaton said Richard Clark uses oxygen for a medical condition, and the presence of the oxygen, which is highly flammable, might have contributed to the high heat of the fire and how quickly it spread.
“The man was smoking and he was on oxygen; he is lucky to be alive,” Yeaton said of Richard Clark.
Yeaton said when Epsom firefighters arrived on the scene, a second alarm was put out due to the heat of the fire, the hot weather, and the lack of access to water.
“And we heard what sounded like small explosions when we arrived on the scene,” Yeaton said.
Yeaton said crews of two to three firefighters had to constantly replace each other to ensure that the firefighters did not become overheated or injured.
“We set up a cooling station, where the guys could cool off under some fans and drink lots of fluids,” Yeaton said.
Due to the remote location of the fire, which occurred at 33 Lantern Lane, Yeaton said access to water was limited.
“That is usually the case in the more rural areas, so we had to shuttle water tankers bank and forth to make sure we had enough water to put out the fire.”
After responding to the call around 8 a.m., Yeaton said the fire was knocked out by crews within 45 minutes.
“The second floor has some bad fire damage, but the structure of the house is still sound; it’s not destroyed by any measure,” Yeaton said.
Diane Clark said she was grateful to firefighters, who not only protected her and her husband’s lives, but also saved their house.
“They got here fast enough that only the upstairs was burned. They did such a great job, I only feel bad that they had to come out on such a hot day,” Clark said.
Clark added that plans are already being made to have the house cleaned up and repaired as quickly as possible.
“Until then, I have family I can stay with,” she said.
Clark’s sister, Michelle Kroski, said the local Lions Club offered Diane and Richard money and clothing.
“Diane said no, because she would prefer that the money and clothes go to someone who actually needs it,” Kroski said.
Departments from Pembroke, Allenstown, Concord, Chichester, Northwood, Pittsfield and Loudon also responded to the fire.
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