Two adults escape early morning fire in Hollis, cat saved by rescuers

HOLLIS – A two-alarm fire broke out in a house at 80 Main St., Hollis, in the early morning hours of Wednesday, Jan. 8. The two adult occupants were asleep but were awakened by smoke detectors and escaped without injury. They made the call to report the fire at 2:50 a.m.

“The roof area was on fire when they woke up,” said Hollis Fire Chief Rick Towne. “It caused heavy damage throughout the attic and did drop down into the living area. It was below zero out, so there was a lot of ice, but we did rescue their cat.”

Extra tankers were called in from Amherst, Pepperell and Dunstable, Mass., and the Nashua Fire Department provided station coverage. The fire was considered under control at 5:14 a.m., but it took firefighters more than an hour to carry their frozen hoses back to the trucks.

“It was 2 degrees when we got there,” said Towne. “Freezing temperatures and water don’t mix well. It was a pretty good mess with a lot of ice and the ladders were covered with ice. It was a stubborn fire.”

Towne said that plenty of water was available to fight the fire, between the fire pond and the water in the tankers. Problems arise when the water stops moving and the undrained hoses freeze.

“If there is water in the lines, and you shut down even for a minute, they freeze and you can’t use that line again,” he explained. Back at the station house, crews were still working at 3 p.m. to thaw the hoses so they can be rolled up and put back on the trucks.

The house isn’t habitable, and the occupants, who rent the house, are staying with relatives in the area.

“The bedroom didn’t burn too badly,” Towne said, “so we were able to get some clothes for them, and they have been back to see what else they could collect.”

Towne said he believes the property, formerly owned by the Stabler family, is held in a trust, but efforts to reach the owner, who lives in Hawaii, were unsuccessful. Towne said the fire is believed to have started near the chimney but remains under investigation.