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10 left homeless by West Stewartstown fire

New Hampshire Union Leader
Colebrook News and Sentinel

December 02. 2013 1:36PM
The fire scene Monday morning at 863 Washington St., West Stewartstown, looking south from in front of The Spa Restaurant, which sits directly north of the apartment building. (KAREN HARRIGAN LADD/Colebrook News & Sentinel)

WEST STEWARTSTOWN - Five adults and five children are without a home after a fire tore through their Washington Street apartment building Monday morning.

No one was injured in the blaze at 863 Washington St. which took up to 75 volunteer firefighters about three hours to get under control.

"The building is standing, but it is completely gutted," said Beecher Falls, Vt. Volunteer Fire Department Capt. Dan Lepine.

The apartment building was home to murder victim Celina Cass, 11, who disappeared on July 25, 2011, and whose body was found a week later wrapped in a blanket in the Connecticut River. Cass' family no longer resides there.

No one has been charged with her murder.

When Lepine arrived at the fire scene Monday morning, he said a New Hampshire State Trooper - he didn't know his name - had already helped the 10 residents, comprising three families and five young children, out of the building.

Firefighters were on the scene within minutes of the 911 call, but by then flames had spread from an attached garage to the south end of the three-unit, three-story apartment building.

"It just went fast," said Lepine.

The fire was reported about 8:15 a.m. and, at the time, he and other firefighters had just finished extinguishing a minor truck fire and could see the Washington Street fire from across the Connecticut River in Vermont.

Firefighters from four communities - Pittsburg, Colebrook, Stratford Hollow and Beecher Falls, Vt. - were called to the scene. The 45th Parallel Emergency Medical Service also was on site.

Lepine said the Red Cross is providing clothing and temporary housing for the displaced residents.

The blaze is believed to have started in the garage, Lepine said. Investigators from the state Fire Marshal's Office will try to determine what caused it.

The owner of the building is listed as Floyd Richardson of
Somerville, Mass. There was another fire at the same building in March of 2005 that originated with a candle and caused  damage. The building was recently re-sided.

Public Safety West Stewartstown


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