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Laconia firefighters return to scene of stubborn three-alarm fire

LACONIA -- A stubborn, three-alarm fire took about 100 firefighters some eight hours to extinguish in the early morning hours Sunday. Hours after the fire appeared to be out, crews were ordered to return to the scene because some of the debris appeared to be re-igniting.

A large section of the roof of a 60,000 square foot building at 161 Court St. in Laconia collapsed in the overnight fire, destroying all but one of the businesses housed in the commercial-industrial structure.

Laconia Fire Capt. Bob Landry said the first report of a fire in the building was received at 2:37 a.m. Firefighters arrived to find heavy flames inside the building, and second and third alarms were struck almost immediately to summon aerial towers and additional manpower.

The fire began in the attic and quickly spread, leading to fears that the walls and roof would collapse.

"We went defensive when we showed up, which means we don't go in the building," Landry said. "When you get that amount of fire in attics we don't go in because the structure might collapse."

A portion of the roof did cave in, as firefighters sprayed a constant stream of water on the burning building from aerial tower trucks from Laconia, Meredith, Franklin and Concord, keeping the fire from spreading to neighboring structures.

Prevailing winds carried burning embers away from the building, so a fire truck was assigned to patrol a nearby neighborhood to make sure the sparks did not ignite another fire.

No injuries were reported. The property was the home to the former Skate Escape roller rink which had been setting up quarters elsewhere in the city.

Other occupants included Northeast Electrical, a little Cesar's pizza shop, an embroidery shop and Lakes Region Linens. Firefighters managed to save the linen firm, which provided linen service to hospitals.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Officials said losses from the fire damage could hit $1 million.



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