Sunday fire displaces longtime Merrimack residents

The Sunday evening fire that heavily damaged a home on Daniel Webster Highwaymay have been burning for some time before a neighbor noticed it and alerted the occupants, a fire official said Monday, Feb. 24.

Assistant Fire Chief Brian Borneman said the occupants, Joseph and Dorothy Pynenburg, safely escaped the home when a man at the auto service shop next door came knocking after he saw smoke coming from the eves in the area of the chimney.

Firefighters knocked the bulk of the fire down soon after they arrived at 496 Daniel Webster Highway, where callers had reported a chimney fire. But upon their arrival, crews found fire and heavy smoke coming from the front of the single-story house.

Nashua crews assisted Merrimack at the fire, while Manchester and Amherst engines covered Merrimack’s stations.

The blaze was reported under control at 5:20 p.m., about a half-hour after the initial call.

Police closed Daniel Webster Highway between McGaw Bridge and Wire roads for about 1½ hours to allow crews to battle the blaze.

The property on which the home sits is on the west side of Daniel Webster Highway opposite Twin Bridge Road and has been in the Pynenburg family for generations, said town Historical Society president Anita Creager.

She said the house itself, which Joseph Pynenburg, a town police officer who served as chief from 1957-62, built in 1950, is one of three buildings at 496, 498 and 500 Daniel Webster Highway that the family owns.

At about the same time, Creager said, Pynenburg built the service station next door. It was a Jenney gas station for years, and although the business is now Beard’s auto service, folks in town still refer to it as Pynenburg’s gas station, she said.

The Pynenburgs also built a motor court behind the house and garage and rented out the cabins seasonally, Creager said. One of those cabins, converted into a small Cape style home, is still there and appears to be inhabited at least part of the year.

Borneman said no injuries were reported Sunday. He said Joseph and Dorothy Pynenburg are staying with relatives for the time being.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or Also, follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).