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Derry house fire leaves person, pet dead

Union Leader Correspondent

February 28. 2014 8:00PM
A man died early Friday after fire swept through this residence at 357 Island Pond Road, according to fire officials. (HUNTER McGEE/Union Leader Correspondent)

DERRY — The man who died in an early morning blaze at his Island Pond residence on Friday has been identified and the cause of the fire has been determined.

The New Hampshire Medical Examiner's office has identified the victim as 48-year-old Michael Lacharite, who died from smoke inhalation. The cause of the blaze has been determined to be accidental due to misuse of smoking materials near papers and trash, according to a news release.

A pet dog was also found dead inside the home, said Derry Battalion Chief Michael Gagnon.

No smoking detectors were located on the main level of the house where the victim was found. One smoke alarm was found in the basement but the detector was approximately 20 years old and it's not know if it was still capable of functioning, according fire officials.

A passing motorist reported the blaze to the Derry Fire Department  early Friday.

The first alarm came in at 12:59 a.m. and fire crews arrived on the scene after three minutes from the initial dispatch, Gagnon said. They encountered heavy fire and were unable to make entry into the house, Gagnon said.

Search crews were later able to enter the home, where they found one person dead. A dog was also found dead in the house, Gagnon said.

Neighbor William Poor said he knew the man who lived near him simply as "Mike." He would occasionally talk to him while he was in his yard.

"He was a nice guy, friendly," Poor said. "We would shoot the bull for five or 10 minutes across the yard, that kind of stuff. I never really got to know him too much."

Poor said his neighbor worked in the building trades and commuted regularly to Boston. He had lived alone in the house since his wife passed away last summer, Poor said.

Poor said he didn’t know the name of the short-haired, lab-like dog.

State Fire Marshal William Degnan urged all residents to have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on each level of their homes immediately outside of sleeping areas, the release said. Smoke alarms should also be placed inside bedrooms and interconnected so that if an alarm sounds then all alarms will sound. Once a smoke alarm sounds, residents only have as little as three minutes to escape. Degnan said smoke alarms that are 10 years or older should be replaced. Residents should have at least two exit routes that are clear of storage and any other potential obstacles.

So far this year, eleven people have died because of fires and carbon monoxide, according to the release.

Any further inquiries can be directed to the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Investigator Tom Schutzius at (603)223-4289.

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