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Weather hampers fighting of New Ipswich blaze
No one was injured when an early morning fire gutted a New Ipswich home on Friday, but firefighters had to struggle against bitter temperatures and frozen equipment to suppress the blaze. (Nancy Bean Foster)
A New Ipswich Highway Department employee was driving by the single family home at 77 Stowell Road around 5:30 a.m. Friday when he noticed smoke coming from the building, said Fire Chief David Leel.
The owners of the home are currently in North Carolina, but two family members were staying at the house, including a man who was working when the blaze broke out, and a teenager who was sleeping but was woken up by the smoke detectors, Leel said.
But for firefighters, the temperatures which hovered just above zero degrees at 5:30 a.m. caused a number of complications. The all-call fire department had to get to the fire station on slick roads, and once the fire trucks were at the scene things started freezing up, said Leel.
As the equipment came in contact with water, freezing occurred, and once those problems were solved, the water hitting the ground created dangerous conditions for the firefighters. But just finding water became an issue, the chief said.
"If it had been June we would have knocked this down in a half an hour," he said.
Leel said it appears the fire started in the rear right-hand side of the house, and early indications are that the fire was electrical in nature. However, the investigation into the cause of the fire was just starting on Friday afternoon and Leel said there was no way to make a definitive determination until the investigation is complete.
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