MOULTONBOROUGH, N.H. (AP) - A young child was killed and six
other members of her extended family injured when a series of
explosions turned a lakeside home into "an incredible inferno"
and a pile of rubble.
The victims were three generations of the same family,
apparently staying at the home for the long holiday weekend, said
police Chief Scott Kinmond. He said five of the six were treated
and released for mostly cuts and bruises. A sixth still was
hospitalized Sunday.
The fire marshal's office reported Sunday that propane gas
ignited, causing the explosion and fire. Officials still were
trying to determine the source of the ignition and the sequence of
explosions at the home on Ash Cove on Lake Winnipesaukee.
Fire marshal's investigator William Clark said the home's
propane tank ruptured, and investigators were working to find out
if the tank was involved in the initial blast, or was damaged and
exploded afterward.
Kinmond said the child's body was found around 5:20 a.m. Sunday,
after searchers called in heavy equipment to help remove rubble. No
names had been released as of Sunday morning.
Paul Sampson, a neighbor, said he and a group of family members
and neighbors were outside around 9:40 p.m. when the house across
the water roared into flames.
"It was an unbelievable explosion. It was terrible," he said.
"The house was an incredible inferno."
Sampson said his son Dennis, his neighbor Jack Ferrante and
Ferrante's son Billy jumped into a car to rush to the scene, a
neighborhood called Krainwood Shores. The older Ferrante is a
firefighter in Arlington, Mass.
Sampson said they found members of the family, including
grandparents, parents and two children, on the ground and helped
lead them away from the flames.
"It was a huge explosion. The six of them said they were blown
from the second floor of the house," Billy Ferrante said. The
group made it to the dock where the injured climbed into a boat.
Sampson, neighbor Peter Ravanis, and one of Sampson's sons took
their boat across the cove and towed the family to the other side.
"The flames must have been 50 to 60 feet in the air," Ravanis
said. "It was so hot on the boat I was ready to jump into the
water," he said of the dockside rescue.
Sampson said members of the family said their youngest daughter
was missing.
"The family was just stunned. The mother was yelling for her
baby and the father was saying he couldn't get her. The mother just
kept yelling 'my baby,"' Billy Ferrante said.
After getting out of the boat at Sampson's dock, they went to
the Ravanis home where ambulance personnel treated them before
taking them to Lakes Region General Hospital. The grandmother
appeared to be the most seriously injured with a injured shoulder,
Billy Ferrante said.
Kinmond said the blast reduced caused a "tremendous fire" and
reduced the home to rubble. Much of the debris blew into the lake.
The destroyed home, like most in the area, was a second home,
used mainly for summer weekends, the chief said. He said he assumes
the victims were up for the long Memorial Day holiday,
traditionally the beginning of the summer boating season.
The property was owned jointly by a father and son, he said, one
from New Hampshire, the other from Massachusetts.
Witnesses said two damaged cars were in the driveway Sunday
morning, one with New Hampshire plates, the other carrying
Massachusetts plates. The fire had melted their tires.
Sampson and neighbor Pat Roth said the initial explosion was
followed by a second one as the propane tank in front of the house
exploded.
"It made a mushroom cloud," Roth said.
Sampson said a gas grill appeared to have caused a third,
smaller explosion.
Firefighters from four departments were called out to the
three-story home.
Moultonborough, population about 4,500, is on the northern shore
of Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire's largest lake. The town is
about 40 miles north of Concord.


(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)