Fire Leaves Family of 14 Homeless

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By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, January 26, 2010

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Boarded windows and debris remain after a fire heavily damaged a home at 548 Lafayette Road in Hampton on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 23, displacing a large family.
[Rich Beauchesne Photo]

HAMPTON -- A local family consisting of five adults and nine children is currently homeless after a fire on Saturday destroyed the first floor of their Route 1 home in Hampton.

Fire Chief Chris Silver said it will probably be some time before the Patterson family will be allowed to return to the house at 548 Lafayette Road.

"It's going to be a while before they can reoccupy it," said Silver, who noted there was extensive damage to the first floor and smoke and fire damage throughout the building. "A lot of work is going to be necessary before the place is habitable."

The American Red Cross is currently assisting the family— where the children range in age from 3 months to 20 years old. Over the weekend the organization put them up at a local hotel.

"We are working with the family and if it's necessary we will continue to offer support," said Jamie Devlin of the Great Bay Chapter of the American Red Cross. "We will make sure that we don't leave them out on the street."

Devlin said they are also aiding the family in getting in touch with other agencies to help get them back on their feet."

Silver said their department has received several inquires from people who want to help the family. He is referring those calls to the Hampton Welfare Office.

"They know better what is needed," Silver said.

Meanwhile the cause of the fire — which took more than an hour to extinguish with the aid of several fire departments — is still under investigation.

"We are still investigating it," Silver said. "The reason why we haven't concluded it is because we are still awaiting the witness statements and the family hasn't turned them in yet."

Silver said he would not comment on what they believe is the cause until they receive the witness statements.

Officials said the fire started in the first-floor, rear bedroom around 12:35 p.m.

Alfred Patterson told WMUR that his parents tried to put out the fire but by the time they discovered it, it was already out of control. Patterson said he along with his siblings made sure the entire family escaped safely.

Silver said when they arrived at the scene the majority of the rear first floor was in flames.

Hampton had three engines and a ladder truck at the scene. They were assisted by Portsmouth, Seabrook, North Hampton, and Rye fire departments.

"It took over an hour and we needed a significant amount of mutual aid," Silver said. "All the mutual aid that was called was necessary to work at the fire."

Silver said the house was not equipped with smoke detectors and a sprinkler system inside was disconnected.

The damage would have been less severe, he believes, had the house had smoke detectors and a working sprinkler system.

"A smoke detector would have alerted them and us sooner, and the activation of the sprinkler system would have probably contained the damage to a much smaller area and they would have been able to salvage most of their belongings," Silver said.

The chief explained the residence had a working sprinkler system at one time when it was a flower shop. When the present occupant took over and reverted the place back to a single family residence, the sprinkler system was shut off, he added.

A structure fire at 548 Lafayette Road in Hampton, heavily damaged the Patterson residence on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 23, displacing a large family.
[Rich Beauchesne Photo]

A North Hampton firefighter looks for hot spots after a fire at a house in Hampton left a family of 11 homeless Saturday.
[Rich Beauchesne Photo]

Lafayette Road was closed from the Route 27 intersection to Anns Lane in Hampton during a fire that heavily damaged a home and displaced 11 members of the Patterson family.
[Rich Beauchesne Photo]

Hampton Fire Lt. John Stevens works to contain the fire.
[Rich Beauchesne Photo]

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