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LACONIA — One man was killed in a four-alarm fire that destroyed a small apartment building at Davis Place on Tuesday night.
The fire remains under investigation by the state Fire Marshal’s Office and Laconia fire and police departments.
State Fire Marshal J. William Degnan said Wednesday night that the fire victim’s identity would not be released until the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office completes an autopsy. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday, he said.
Laconia Fire Capt. Bob Landry said flames were showing from the rear porches of the two-story, six-unit building at 66 Davis Drive when firefighters arrived after being called at 10:45 p.m.
Landry said between 12 and 15 people were inside when the fire broke out. He said firefighters made an aggressive interior attack and helped people get out. They were told then, he said, that there were people still inside the burning building.
Fire crews battled the blaze inside the building for 40 minutes, but still flames reached the attic and traveled the length of the building. Portions of the roof and the second floor started collapsing under the weight of the water; firefighters were ordered out for their safety.
At the height of the fire, about 75 firefighters were on scene, some arriving from as far away as Concord, Holderness and New Hampton.
The fire proved to be tough to put out. Landry said after about two hours, firefighters began having problems with the equipment — hoses and nozzles froze in the 2-degree Fahrenheit temperatures. Firefighters, too, had to be rotated out frequently because of the frigid cold.
The Citizen Emergency Response Team, a group of volunteers, arrived to provide food and coffee to the fire crews. They also convinced the owner of a building next door to open it and allow the firefighters to use it as a warming station, Landry said.
The fire was finally brought under control about 2 a.m., more than three hours after it was reported. One firefighter suffered second-degree burns to his neck and ears, but Landry said he stayed at the scene and kept fighting the blaze.
Landry said the building is destroyed; he estimated damage at $750,000. He said the building was fairly old, but the interior was nice, with oak stairways and bannisters.
The fire, he said, started in the middle of the building. Flames destroyed one second-floor apartment and heavily damaged the entire second floor. Smoke and water damaged the rest of the apartment building.
The state has seen three other fire fatalities this February. On Feb. 10, Paul Morrill, 72, and Jane Morrill, 68, died of smoke inhalation in their Bridgewater home.
On Feb. 11, Sarah Robinson, 72, of 83 Bowman St. in Manchester, died in a fire.