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Investigation continues into cause of deadly house fire in Warren


December 05, 2018
WARREN – A tragic house fire in Warren on Sunday left one woman dead and two others transported to the hospital as investigations into the cause are still underway by the New Hampshire State Fire Marshal's Office, Warren Fire Department and the Warren police.

At approximately 8 p.m. on Dec. 2, firefighters were called to a home on Route 25 in the Glencliff area of the community where those first on the scene found the single-family home completely engulfed in flames. Mutual aid was requested and crews from Haverhill Corners, Piermont, Rumney, Plymouth, Ashland and as far away as Campton-Thornton were called upon to assist. It took more than four hours to put out the blaze.

Upon arrival, firefighters and paramedics were ready to fight the fire but found that their most serious problem was there were people still inside the home.

One woman did manage to escape on her own but fire fighters were told there were two other women who had not yet made it out. While rescuers were able to pull one of those victims from the building, they were forced out by heavy flames and unable to rescue the third. Other residents of the home at the time were able to escape safely, reports said.

The Warren Fire Chief, Arthur Heath, who is a longtime veteran of the department, was unavailable for comment but did tell other media sources that it was a tough night for his department, as well as a tough fire to battle.

"It was set in the woods and we were kind of restricted on water. We don't have a hydrant system, but we have a good water source from down the street and all of our Mutual Aid companies know where it is," he told WMUR.

Water wasn't the only thing hampering their efforts that night though. As a rural town of only 900 residents, Warren has a volunteer fire department, which means responders that night had to be summoned from home, head to the station, jump into their gear then race to the scene as quickly as possible. A lack of cell phone service in the area of the fire also meant they had to find nearby telephone landlines to communicate with other companies responding.

Despite those challenges, the loss of a resident can't be ignored and it has had an impact on the small, tight-knit community.

"We all know each other. (It's) part of the deal. It happens every day of the year to somebody and today it happened to us," Heath said.

An autopsy was performed Monday on the woman who died in the fire and she was then identified as 57-year-old Rebecca Self. Her cause of death was ruled by the State Medical Examiner to be accidental, a result of smoke inhalation and thermal burns.

No other names of those involved in the fire were released as this paper went to press.

Adding to the tragic situation, as one of the other two women caught up in the blaze were being transported to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center the hospital for further medical evaluation and treatment, an ambulance was hit by another vehicle. While there were no personal injuries to the patient or staff inside the ambulance, it did sustain extensive damage and the driver of the other vehicle was later charged with reckless driving.

The cause and origin of the fire remains under investigation.

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