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Lightning strike being eyed as possible cause of Bethlehem fire that destroyed log cabin

Union Leader Correspondent

June 19. 2018 9:29PM
A fire destroyed this unoccupied, seasonal residence at 765 Swazey Lane in Bethlehem on Tuesday. The fire is not believed to be suspicious in origin and investigators said it may have been caused by a lightning strike. (Courtesy)

BETHLEHEM — Although a fire that destroyed an unoccupied, seasonally-used log cabin at 765 Swazey Lane on Tuesday remains under investigation, a lightning strike is being considered as the possible cause.

No one was injured in the fire, but there was “a close call,” said Bethlehem Fire Chief Jack Anderson, when a firefighter fell through the first floor of the home. The firefighter, whom Anderson did not identify, was checked at the scene and retuned to fighting the blaze.

Anderson said his department received a 911 call from a neighbor at 8:39 a.m. Tuesday, reporting that there was heavy smoke coming from the eaves of the log cabin.

When the first firefighters arrived, they found heavy fire inside the 1½ story structure, said Anderson, and in opening the building to attack the fire, “it took off on them and heavily damaged the cabin,” which was later deemed uninhabitable and a total loss.

“The building had been burning for quite a while. We’re not sure when it first started and the cause right now is undetermined but it possibly could have been a lightning strike last night,” said Anderson, adding that the fire does not appear to be suspicious.

Anderson said fire crews from four surrounding towns helped fight the fire or provided coverage in Bethlehem, while two other towns sent tanker trucks.

“Everybody did a great job dealing with what they had,” said Anderson.

Monday night brought some extreme weather to the White Mountains, including a tornado that briefly touched down on Mount Pemigewasset in nearby Lincoln, whereas in Bethlehem, Anderson said, “we had some severe thunderstorms” that dumped some two inches of rain on the town and included lightning.

Although a bit early on the seasonal calendar, “it was a typical mid-summer thunderstorm,” said Anderson.

Fires Bethlehem

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