Swanzey's Knotty Pines Antiques destroyed in fireBy MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent
January 07. 2018 10:56PM
SWANZEY — A fast-moving fire tore through Knotty Pines Antiques on Route 10 early Sunday morning, collapsing the building as it burned to the ground.
Firefighters were called to Knotty Pines Antiques, 787 W. Swanzey Road/Route 10 at 12:12 a.m. on Sunday.
The building was fully involved in fire, Fire Chief Norm Skantze said Sunday afternoon.
Though firefighters were working in minus 9 degree temperatures, the wind chill made the temperature feel like minus 18, Skantze said.
Swanzey raised the call to a four-alarm fire bringing in the manpower and equipment of 16 fire departments and water was trucked in from three different sources, but it just wasn’t enough, Skantze said. Within 30 minutes of responding, the entire building had collapsed.
“There was just not enough available water,” Skantze said, despite the amount of equipment and manpower on scene.
“It’s still a 1,600 foot plus long, wide-open building. Almost like a barn fire. And the attic was not subdivided or what we call draft stopping, which is either sheetrock or plywood,” Skantze said. “Just something to stop the flow of the air in that attic and so once the fire burned into the attic it easily moved throughout the building and that is exactly how this building progressed.”
Sunday afternoon Swanzey firefighters were still on scene working to extinguish the flames peeking out from under the collapsed roof.
“When the roof collapsed it trapped a lot of the heat that’s underneath,” said Swanzey Fire Department Deputy Chief Mick Sanchez. “That’s where you’re seeing a lot of the smoke that’s coming up from. A lot of this stuff is still burning underneath the roof materials and the wall structure. So what we have to do is try to root that stuff out and cool it off as much as we can. We have to do that all by hand. A lot of the ice is making it hard for us. It’s hampering our efforts .... Frozen hydrants and frozen pumps on truck is making that hard for us to do. So it’s an ongoing effort. I would say we’re going to be here for several more hours.”
Swanzey Fire Department Fire Investigator Eric Mattson was also on scene working to determine the cause and origin of the fire.
“We don’t believe it’s a suspicious fire,” Skantze said. “I know they had some frozen pipes and they were working at thawing them. I’m not saying that’s the cause. We know we have cold conditions and furnaces are working extra hard right now and we know we have fire all over the state right now. Anything is possible. We’re just glad nobody got hurt. We feel bad because this has been a business in town for more than 55 years.
Stephen and Joan Papas of Swanzey built the building in 1960. Their son John Papas of Keene took ownership in 1995. The building was used primarily for antiques sales and auctions.
“It’s a huge building, very much a predominate feature in West Swanzey,” Skantze said. Most everyone living in the area has been to the business. The business sold antiques and ran auctions. Skantze said he has seen auctions in the past draw up to 300 people to the building.
“Fortunately there was nobody here when the building caught on fire,” Skantze said.