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January 20. 2014 4:15PM

Four adults, one child escape Epping house fire

EPPING – Four adults and one child were able to escape a 96 Railroad Avenue house fire on Sunday night unharmed, but their home is a total loss.

Epping Deputy Fire Chief Bruce Chapman said a report of a fire in the ceiling of the single-story cottage came in around 10:50 p.m. Chapman was the first one on scene nine minutes later and said the fire was already burning out of control.

A second alarm for manpower and water supply was called to defensively fight the fire. It took about an hour to bring it under control, but crews remained on scene until close to 3 a.m. Monday morning.

Chapman said it appears the fire started in a partition between a wall and a woodstove due to a faulty piece of pipe going through the wall. Chapman said that started a chimney fire that extended into the partition, and then into the roof.

"And from there it just got out of control and burned the house down completely," Chapman said.

Chapman said a female in the home was awake at the time the fire broke out and heard something crackling. She looked to the ceiling and could see a glow from a wall joint, and embers dropping from the ceiling. She raced to get her husband, child, two other younger adults, birds and a cat out of the home.

"I was there in nine minutes and it was fully involved. It had a good head start on us," Chapman said. "If it was later in the night and they were sleeping, we probably would have had fatalities, that is just how fast the fire spread. It was quick," Chapman said.

The American Red Cross was called in early Monday morning to assist the family.

Chapman said the fire should be a reminder to homeowners with woodstoves to have them inspected at least twice a year, to have them cleaned on a regular basis and to keep an eye out for anything that does not look right.

The Raymond Fire Department was originally called in to provide station coverage and was then called to the scene for the second alarm along with the
Brentwood and Newfields fire departments. Lee Fire also provided station coverage and the Seacoast Fire Chiefs Air Trailer was also brought on scene.

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