Sunapee apartment fire displaces dozens

Brian Larson, of Newport, N.H. tries to break through ice on Andrew Cloutier's car on Jan. 19, 2024, after a structure fire destroyed Cloutier's apartment on Thursday night. The fire destroyed the 14-unit building, which was built in 1880 and was used as a boarding house for summer visitors to the area in the past. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Brian Larson, of Newport, N.H. tries to break through ice on Andrew Cloutier's car on Jan. 19, 2024, after a structure fire destroyed Cloutier's apartment on Thursday night. The fire destroyed the 14-unit building, which was built in 1880 and was used as a boarding house for summer visitors to the area in the past. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Jennifer Hauck

Andrew Cloutier, a resident of Lake Sunapee Manor, talks with John Gosselin of the Sunapee Fire Department at the scene of a structure fire on Friday, Jan. 19, 2024, in Sunapee, N.H. At around 7 p.m. on Thursday night, Cloutier's neighbor came to him about smoke in his apartment. The two then went through the 14 units in the building, telling people to get out. Cloutier was at the scene the next day, hoping he may be able to get some things out of his apartment. He was staying with friends. Behind Cloutier is his friend Brian Larson, of Newport, N.H.  (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Andrew Cloutier, a resident of Lake Sunapee Manor, talks with John Gosselin of the Sunapee Fire Department at the scene of a structure fire on Friday, Jan. 19, 2024, in Sunapee, N.H. At around 7 p.m. on Thursday night, Cloutier's neighbor came to him about smoke in his apartment. The two then went through the 14 units in the building, telling people to get out. Cloutier was at the scene the next day, hoping he may be able to get some things out of his apartment. He was staying with friends. Behind Cloutier is his friend Brian Larson, of Newport, N.H. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — Jennifer Hauck

Sunapee Town Manager Shannon Martinez, right, works with fellow town employees Allyson Traeger and Kris McAllister to bring soup donated by Shaws to emergency workers at the scene of a structure fire in Sunapee, N.H., on Friday, Jan. 19, 2024. The fire displaced all of the residents in the building in Georges Mills, a village of Sunapee. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Sunapee Town Manager Shannon Martinez, right, works with fellow town employees Allyson Traeger and Kris McAllister to bring soup donated by Shaws to emergency workers at the scene of a structure fire in Sunapee, N.H., on Friday, Jan. 19, 2024. The fire displaced all of the residents in the building in Georges Mills, a village of Sunapee. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Adam Fanjoy, an investigator for the New Hampshire Fire Marshal's Office, and Sunapee Fire Chief John Galloway discuss a structure fire in Sunapee, N.H., on Friday, Jan. 19, 2024. The building containing 14 units was destroyed by fire on Thursday night. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Adam Fanjoy, an investigator for the New Hampshire Fire Marshal's Office, and Sunapee Fire Chief John Galloway discuss a structure fire in Sunapee, N.H., on Friday, Jan. 19, 2024. The building containing 14 units was destroyed by fire on Thursday night. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Lake Sunapee Manor was destroyed by fire Thursday evening. Numerous area fire departments responded to the structure fire, many were still in service on Friday morning, Jan. 19, 2024 in Georges Mills, a village in Sunapee, N.H.  (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Lake Sunapee Manor was destroyed by fire Thursday evening. Numerous area fire departments responded to the structure fire, many were still in service on Friday morning, Jan. 19, 2024 in Georges Mills, a village in Sunapee, N.H. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

By PATRICK ADRIAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 01-19-2024 5:46 PM

Modified: 01-22-2024 9:34 AM


GEORGES MILLS — Nearly 30 people were displaced when a Thursday night fire destroyed an apartment building in Georges Mills, an unincorporated village of Sunapee. The cause remains under investigation.

Fire departments from around the state worked through freezing temperatures from about 7:45 p.m. Thursday night through Friday morning to combat the blaze that engulfed Lake Sunapee Manor, a three-story residential building located at 27 Prospect Hill Road, off Route 11 near Interstate 89.

At least 28 tenants from the building’s 14 units were displaced by the fire, which required at least five alarms, estimated Town Manager Shannon Martinez.

“The hard part is where these residents are going to live now,” Martinez said. “Our (town) welfare coordinator is on board this morning, trying to call the families to find out how we can help and to connect them with Red Cross.”

The residents initially were taken to the Sunapee safety services building to stay warm. They all have either been placed in a motel or are staying with family, Martinez said.

Some tenants were still in the building when fire crews arrived on scene, but there were no injuries.

One tenant, Andrew Cloutier, who was at the site of the fire on Friday morning, said that he was in his apartment when a neighbor contacted him about detecting smoke. Cloutier and his neighbor went door to door to warn other tenants.

Cloutier, who was retrieving his car that he had left at the Manor Thursday night, said he is staying with a friend.

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“It is what it is,” Cloutier said about the situation.

Regarding pets, Martinez said that a fish aquarium was destroyed in the fire and that two cats were believed to be missing, though she had heard that a tenant’s lizard was rescued.

Firefighters safely removed one cat from an apartment, though no other pets were found, according to Sunapee Fire Chief John Galloway.

By 9 a.m., the fire had been contained. Remaining crews of firefighters were extinguishing lingering hot spots on the roof and upper floor, which was mostly destroyed.

Galloway said that once an investigation was complete, crews will need to raze significant portions of the building exterior to search for active hot spots.

“We try to be as minimal as we can,” but that is not always possible, Galloway said.

With overnight temperatures teetering in the single digits, the bitter cold posed a major hurdle for the firefighters, as the spray used to knock back the flames quickly turned into ice.

“The cold is what played havoc,” Galloway said. “These guys get working and get covered in water that becomes ice because it’s 10 degrees, so they need to take a break then.”

Fire departments assisting Sunapee included Claremont, Lebanon, Goshen, Weare, Nashua, Merrimack, Bedford, Goffstown and Milford. Galloway said he did not have a full tally of how many departments responded.

Martinez and town employees spent part of Friday morning distributing coffee, pizza and soup to the emergency responders.

Albeit a small saving grace, the fire did not destroy The Barn, an attached structure to the Manor that is credited for birthing the rock band Aerosmith.

In 1969, The Barn was a small music venue where Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, who was staying at his parents’ resort at Trow Rico Cabins, first saw Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry and bassist Tom Hamilton perform with their band, Jam Band. The trio relocated soon after to Boston to form Aerosmith.

Lake Sunapee Manor was built in 1880, where it served as a boarding house with up to 40 rooms. The building was sold last September for $1.3 million to Growth Cap Management, LLC, a real estate firm based in Merrimack.

Robert Parpinelli, the principal agent of Growth Cap, said he believes the building will need to be demolished.

“It’s just not safe anymore,” Parpinelli said. “The only thing we hope to save is The Barn because of its historical importance.”

The building is insured, Parpinelli noted.

Parpinelli said that all the apartments have smoke alarms and, he believes, fire extinguishers — which were also placed on the hallways of each floor and in common areas such as the laundry room.

As of Friday afternoon, an investigation report had not been released.

Patrick Adrian may be reached at padrian@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.

CORRECTION: The fire at 27 Prospect Hill Road in Sunapee last  week was classified a five-alarm fire. A previous version of this story included an incorrect number of alarms for the fire.