Smoke alarms, dog credited for saving NH couple

The pair tried to report the fire using a cell phone but lost the signal and ran to a neighbor's house to call 911


By Meg Heckman
The Concord Monitor

DUNBARTON, N.H. — Firefighters are crediting smoke detectors and a barking dog with preventing injuries in a predawn fire in Dunbarton yesterday.

The house at 67 Twist Hill Road was heavily damaged. The couple living there and the dog that alerted them escaped unharmed, according to fire Chief Jon Wiggin. A cat was still missing yesterday afternoon.

Wiggin said the couple awoke to the sound of fire alarms and their barking dog about 4 a.m. They tried to report the fire using a cell phone but lost the signal and ran to a neighbor's house to call 911. Fire crews from five communities spent about 30 minutes taming the flames.

An overloaded electrical socket in the living room may have started the fire, which Wiggin said moved quickly through the house.

"If they didn't have working smoke detectors, they probably wouldn't have gotten out," he said. "It's a real small home on one level, and there was heavy, heavy smoke."

The house is uninhabitable, and the Red Cross is paying for a hotel room for the couple for the next few nights.

According to town assessment records, the property is owned by Jane Chmiel and Richard Grandmount and is worth about $158,000. Wiggin estimated the cost of repairs at $50,000.

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