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December 16. 2013 8:39PM

Colebrook reaches out after blaze

Donations of funds, clothing and baby items are pouring in to assist a Colebrook family that lost their home to a Sunday morning fire on Hazen Drive in Colebrook.

The Colebrook Fire Department was called out at 6 a.m. to the modular home owned by Raymond Champagne. According to Fire Chief Brett Brooks, Champagne, his wife Judy, their two children, 12-year-old Damien and eight-year-old Blake, and two other children were in the house when the smoke detectors went off.

Champagne saw that the carpet was smoking and threw water on it, and then went outside to see flames coming from under the house, in an area where a woodstove was in use. Brooks said the floor around the stove burned through and spread to an adjacent room, and there was smoke damage throughout the house.

Everyone made it outside, and the 45th Parallel EMS transported Champagne to Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. The children were also taken to the hospital as a precaution.

Brooks said the fire originated in the area around the woodstove, and it was possible that a spark could have gotten into the carpet and burned something underneath.

The Colebrook and Beecher Falls fire departments had cleared the scene by around 8:30 a.m., but Colebrook was called again at 9:30 a.m. for a report that the fire had rekindled. Chief Brooks said they believed the fire was fully extinguished, but the house's blown-in insulation reignited.

"All it takes is one little spark and that ignites and takes off," he said. "The part where the two halves hitch together in the peak is where we had the problem the second time," he said, noting that the wind may have aided the fire. Once the fire was extinguished, firefighters had to do an "extensive overhaul" Chief Brooks said, pulling the ceiling down to make sure it was completely out. Chief Brooks said he did contact the state Fire Marshal's office, but that the fire is not considered suspicious.

The parents are staying at the Northern Comfort Motel in Colebrook, while the children are at their grandmother's home in Canaan, Vt.

Within hours of the fire, fundraising efforts were underway to help the displaced family as they prepare for a new arrival at Christmastime.

Champagne's cousin, Donald Lesperance, is serving in the Air Force at Shaw AFB in South Carolina, and set up a page at www.gofundme.com to accept online donations. Noting that the family is expecting a baby boy on Dec. 25, he wrote, "I know money is tight this time of year but any and every donation will mean the world to our family right now. I set the goal at $1,500 but if we can surpass that, it would be great!" As of 5 p.m. Monday night, the effort had received 77 donations totaling $3,785.

A fund has also been established at the First Colebrook Bank, where donations may be sent in care of Wayne Frizzell, 132 Main St. in Colebrook. "We've already had numerous calls about funds, what they need for clothing, etc." he said. "As for the baby, a complete nursery is being donated by someone in Concord."
Frizzell may be reached at 603-237-7030 for further information.


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