A fast-moving, two-alarm fire in a rural section of Woodsville, N.H., claimed the life of an occupant on Thursday, Jan. 26.
The initial alarm was received at 3:02 p.m. as a passing neighbor spotted smoke and flames coming from the two-story home located several hundred feet off Swiftwater Road and nestled into trees. The first reports also indicated the fire building was occupied and no one had been seen leaving the building.
First units arriving from Woodsville reported the building nearly fully involved.
Woodsville Fire Chief Brad Kennedy quickly asked for a second-alarm assignment with additional tanker trucks coming from surrounding communities as there were no hydrants in the immediate area. Within the first 20 minutes of the operations, a large-diameter hose lay was established about 2,800 feet from the fire. An engine was stationed at the hydrant supplying a secondary engine that then pushed water up a small incline to the attack engine.
A primary search of the building did not reveal any occupants, and command was concerned about the integrity of the second floor and ordered firefighters out after hearing reports that some of the floor had already collapsed. After the fire had been knocked down, firefighters conducted a secondary search and found a victim in a second-floor bathroom who had died as a result of the fire. Several pets were found alive in the basement of the home and were rescued by firefighters. The dogs and cats were dried and warmed in a Woodsville Ambulance before being released to family members. Two other dogs and Macaw parrots perished in the blaze.
Local police officers from the Haverhill Police Department, along with the Grafton County Attorney’s Office and the New Hampshire Fire Marshal’s Office investigated the fire and confirmed the death.
An autopsy on the victim was conducted on Monday, Jan. 30 at Concord (N.H.) Hospital by the New Hampshire Medical Examiner’s Office to determine positive identification of the victim and cause of death. News reports and family members have said the victim was Lora Kydd, 47, of Woodsville.
Preliminary results of the investigation suggest the fire started in the floor between the first and second floor in the A/B corner of the building. An electrical problem is under consideration as the cause of the fire and the fire marshal’s office is considering the fire accidental.
While fighting the fire, and during the investigation of its cause, officials were struck by the fact there were no working smoke alarms on the first or second floor in the home.
Firefighters and equipment from Woodsville, North Haverhill, Haverhill Corner, Bath, Monroe and Lisbon in New Hampshire responded to the fire. Departments from Vermont, Newbury, Wells River, West Newbury and Ryegate either responded to the scene or provided working fire coverage for the other mutual aid towns at the scene.