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Small fire at Santa's Village quickly extinguished

Union Leader Correspondent

July 11. 2018 9:42PM
While the rest of Santa's Village is open, the Polar Theater, shown here on Wednesday, will remain partially or entirely closed for an undetermined time, after a fire there on Tuesday night. (John Koziol/Union Leader Correspondent)

JEFFERSON — A small, non-suspicious and quickly contained fire Tuesday night at the Polar Theater at Santa’s Village caused limited damage but it raised concern among some of the attraction’s many fans.

Firefighters responded at 9:30 p.m. to Santa’s Village after being alerted to the fire by the village’s alarm-monitoring company.

The fire, located in a laundry/storage room on the second floor, was first attacked by an employee with a portable extinguisher and was brought under control within an hour by firefighters, said Jefferson Fire Chief Chris Milligan, although the last unit didn’t clear the scene until around midnight.

Milligan was scheduled to meet Wednesday evening with representatives of the New Hampshire Fire Marshal’s office to discuss the investigation of the fire, which, upon initial review, is “not considered suspicious at all,” he said.

Jim Miller, a spokesman for Santa’s Village, said the attraction, now in its 66th season, was open on Wednesday — with the exception of the Polar Theater building — as clean-up and repairs continued. In addition to a movie theater, the Polar Theater contains a snack shop, a gift workshop and a guest-services office on the first floor. The second floor an employee dining area, offices and training rooms, and wardrobe, Miller said.

The goal is to re-open the theater as soon as possible, said Christian Gainer, whose family is one of three who own Santa’s Village. Depending on how things go, the building may re-open in phases or all at once, he said.

Santa’s Village informed the public about the fire shortly after it happened via Facebook, Miller said, and was overwhelmed with more than one hundred posts, most expressing both gratitude and relief.

“It’s always nice to see how concerned people are, to see how many friends and neighbors who care really deeply about Santa’s Village,” Miller said. “We’re very grateful that it was a very small incident with minimal damage and zero injuries and very minimal disruption to the operation.”

Gainer thanked the nearly 40 firefighters from five neighboring communities who responded to the fire, noting that many of them had worked at Santa’s Village earlier in their lives while some had children employed there now.

The majority of visitors who came to Santa’s Village on Wednesday weren’t even aware of the fire, Gainer said, adding that “Santa and the reindeer are fine and happy to see each and every guest.”

Milligan, who has been Jefforson’s fire chief for 18 of his 38 years with the department, said there were no problems in fighting the fire at Santa’s Village. The first alarm brought not only extra personnel but tanker trucks to the scene, he said, and Santa’s Village also has ponds from which water could have been drafted, if needed.

The fire occurred at a good time, he said, when many of the firefighters, who are paid call firefighters, were home and able to respond.

Fires Tourism Travel and commuting Jefferson

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