Thermal Imager Aids N.H. Crews in Fire Rescue

June 25--BROOKLINE -- A man trapped in the basement of his burning Laurel Crest Drive home Tuesday night was rescued by firefighters, who found him with the help of a thermal imaging camera.

Fire Chief Charlie Corey said Wednesday that firefighters heading to 30 Laurel Crest Drive were told by the 911 dispatcher that someone was trapped in the basement. Alexis Wilson, 16, had been on the first floor of the two-story home, which also has an attic, and was able to make it out on her own.

However, her brother, Greg Wilson, 22, whose bedroom is in the basement, was still inside.

Assistant Fire Chief Dave Flannery, a 15-year-veteran of the fire department, said he and two others, after determining it was safe, went into the burning building. The black smoke was so thick, however, they could not see anything.

"I was using the infrared camera in one hand and feeling for him on the floor with the other one and then I saw him about 10 feet ahead of me," he said.

The man, who is in his late teens and the son of homeowners Lisa and Bruce Wilson, was on the floor, unconscious.

"The second they got there, they ran inside and dragged him out and EMS people transported him to St. Joseph Hospital," Corey said. "Last we knew, he was in intensive care."

None of the firefighters was injured.

The fire was reported at 6:45 p.m. Heavy black smoke was pouring out of the rear of the building when the first fire crews arrived on scene.

Flames were on every level of the home including the attic, according to Corey.

The blaze quickly went to the equivalent of a four-alarm fire, bringing fire crews from the surrounding area. Tankers were brought in and a 4-inch line was run to a nearby fire pond that was put in when the housing development was built years ago, the chief said.

Fire crews remained on the scene putting out hot spots until 2 a.m. Wednesday. Three hours later they had to return when the fire rekindled.

Corey said there is nothing left of the home. The attic collapsed into the building, taking down the second and first floors. He said investigators will have to dig through six to eight feet of debris to try to determine how the blaze started.

He said the cause is not suspicious.

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Copyright 2014 - The New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester

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