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Man badly burned in Manchester fire

By KEVIN LANDRIGAN and MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader

August 17. 2017 8:58PM
Firefighters and EMTs rush a badly burned man to a waiting ambulance at the fire scene on Pennsylvania Avenue in Manchester on Thursday afternoon. (Jeffrey Hastings)

MANCHESTER — A Manchester man is battling for his life after firefighters engineered a split-second, dangerous rescue from a home on Pennsylvania Avenue on Thursday afternoon.

“This is one of the better saves that we were able to bring him out,” Fire District Chief Al Poulin said of the 59-year-old. “Right now we’re praying for him to hang on ...”

The man has second-degree burns over 80 percent of his body, and third-degree burns on 15 percent, Poulin said.

The owner of the 2 1/2-story home, Viola M. Dussault, was not home at the time of the blaze, officials said.

The victim is believed to be her son; the man’s two teenage daughters were downstairs when the fire broke out.

One of them dialed 911 at 4:17 p.m. to report smoke coming from under the door of the second-story bedroom, Assistant Fire Chief Richard McGahey said.

“She said she believed her father was in the room, but she couldn’t get access. The dispatcher told her to leave the home,” McGahey said.

District Chief Poulin said the girls were watching television downstairs and told firefighters that they quickly knew something was wrong.

“They heard a big clunk like he had fallen over. Then a little while later, they smelled smoke. There’s a small heating vent from his room upstairs that feeds down to the living room and smoke started spilling into that vent,” Poulin said.

“One of the girls went upstairs to check on him; she felt the heat and tried to open the door and couldn’t get the door open,” Poulin said. “When she finally tried and pulled hard, the door opened two inches and heavy, heavy smoke came into the room and she couldn’t proceed.”

Rescue One crews from the Manchester Fire Department headquarters at 100 Merrimack St. arrived while Engine 10 responded from the Mammoth Road Fire Station.

“The whole rescue from running up the stairs to taking the gentleman out was probably performed in 30 to 45 seconds — one nice piece of work,” Poulin said.

The man was wrapped in sterile drapes and taken to an ambulance, Poulin said. He was initially taken to Elliot Hospital, but quickly flown to a Boston hospital.

The four-person Engine 10 crew then quickly put the fire out, limiting the fire damage to the second-story bedroom. The house, assessed by the city at $178,400, had minor smoke and water damage throughout.

The four-man crew that engineered the rescue included firefighter T.J. Burkush, son of retired, Manchester fire chief James Burkush; Lt. Matt Lamothe, firefighter Nick Poulin, son of District Chief Poulin, and firefighter Nikolos McCuloch.

“We knew there was no time to waste to get to that trapped victim, so the rescue guys just blew by me as I was standing at the front step and one of them said, ‘It’s time to move,’” Poulin recalled.

“Two went into the blaze to bring the man out and the other two were waiting on the stairs so all four of them could carefully but quickly bring him out of the burning building.”

The Engine 10 crew that also attended to the teenage girls and another woman waiting outside consisted of Lt. Kevin Holdredge, firefighters John Lopez, Dennis Collins and Hayden Starr, whose father is a captain on Engine 9.

The two teens are now staying with family members, officials said.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

klandrigan@unionleader.commhayward@unionleader.com


Fires Manchester