Three Firefighters Hurt in Claremont (NH) Fire in Good Condition

Two city firefighters remain hospitalized in good condition Monday after being injured in a house fire Sunday, reports the New Hampshire Union Leader.

"They are both still hospitalized, and each hospital is listing their conditions as good," Claremont Fire Chief Richard Bergeron said.

Claremont Fire Department Lt. Andy Stevens was life-flighted to Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston (MA) and firefighter Scott Kenniston was life-flighted to Fletcher Allen Hospital in Burlington (VT).

Both firefighters suffered burns escaping a quickly moving house fire they were battling Sunday night.

Three Firefighters Injured Battling New Hampshire Fire

A third firefighter, Nick Koloski, injured his thumb or wrist while helping the firefighters escape. He was treated and released from Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont Sunday night, Bergeron said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but the cause has been "tentatively placed on a heat lamp that was operating in the chicken coop to help keep it warm for the birds," Bergeron said.

The family, three adults and three children, were out of the house when firefighters arrived, though initial reports of the fire reported two adults were trapped inside.

Exterior materials on the house helped spread the fire up the rear side of the house including an exterior vinyl siding and the composite porch.

Homeowners sometime favor these materials because they are low or no maintenance, Bergeron said, "But when you inject fire into these buildings all bets are off; it becomes a whole new environment for the firefighters."

From the front, the house appears to have two stories, but from the rear, because of a slope, the basement level opens out into the backyard, Bergeron said.

Firefighters went through the front and entered the first floor to attack the porch on the first floor.

"They went through a small entryway and into the dining room, working on extinguishing the deck fire," Bergeron said. "I think unbeknownst to them the fire had communicated to the floor beneath them as well as the floor above them," Bergeron said.

They didn't realize the fire was quickly spreading through the basement and top floor, he said.

There was so much fire in the building, conditions deteriorated before they could react, Bergeron said.

"Fire is unpredictable and there's no guarantee that it will travel in the direction and speed that you will anticipate it will. Every now and again it will catch you off guard and it's an unforgiving thing," Bergeron said.

Once they realized this, it was too late and they had to "self-rescue," he said, running down the basement stairs and out the back door.

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